College ADs Talk Importance Of Mental Health For Student-Athletes
Several prominent ADs called mental health the "biggest issue" relating to student-athletes on their campuses during the opening panel at the '19 Learfield IMG College Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. Michigan's Warde Manuel said he worries about student athletes and the "pressure they put on themselves to succeed." Temple's Patrick Kraft agreed that the issue keeps him up at night, saying, "I don't care about you hitting the putt, or you not hitting that free throw. I care about you living every single day. And that's the most important issue." Kraft added breaking from societal stigmas is a big piece of the puzzle. He said, "Everyone sees our young men and women. They're strong and they're going through so much, so they want to hide it." But he added, "It's like having a bad knee. Mentally, you've got to be right. And so, trying to destigmatize the mental health piece is paramount."
PROVIDING NEEDED HELP: San Jose State's Marie Tuite said it is the responsibility of collegiate ADs to help assist athletes in "navigating the ups and downs of life that they face." She also believes social media plays a significant role. "Nowadays, if we have a young man or a young woman that does something in competition, the social media aspect of that for that young man or that young woman can be devastating and life-changing," she said. All of the panelists agreed that more resources are being invested in the mental well-being of student athletes. Manuel said Michigan now has five full-time mental health professionals to service its athletes. Cal's Jim Knowlton added, "Just on the stage here, every one of us is adding staff for this space." Marquette's Bill Scholl acknowledged from a financial standpoint, mental health has been "very easy to raise money around, to help support these positions." Scholl: "Our donors have really embraced this as being a concern and 'let's fix this right now, let's not wait.'" There is still work to be done, though. Kraft said, "Whether it's anxiety, depression, eating disorders, it is staggering what you will come across."