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Mental Health First Aid is the Team Player You Need

Even before the stress of college begins to set in, one in four students has a history of mental illness and treatment. That means 25 percent of college students have been formally diagnosed or treated for mental health issues – twice as many as non-college adults.

On top of the usual college stressors, student athletes have additional pressures affecting their mental health and their coaches may be contributing to its gradual downfall (“Athletes’ Mental Health: A Series On Student Athletes,” The Jambar, April 19, 2017).

“We have parents and coaches who will tell students to shake it off,” Emily Wollet, assistant athletic director at Youngstown State University said. “And it’s not that they don’t care, but they just don’t understand what it’s like. Until you experience it yourself, or are around somebody close who’s experiencing it, you won’t have the empathy or understanding on how to support it.”

Eighty-five percent of college students feel overwhelmed by the many demands on them, according to the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment. Approximately 82 percent of students feel exhausted, 65 percent sad and 58 overly anxious, while close to 10 percent reported that they considered suicide. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to brush off mental health problems before it’s too late, especially athletes.

Student athletes often face high levels of stress from attempting to balance their academics and athletics combined with the pressures to excel and win. When coaches don’t have the tools or experience to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, the struggle of student athletes goes unseen and unheard.

That is exactly why Mental Health First Aid exists. It is training that teaches people how to engage with the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges and, more specifically, how to empathically listen and respond to these signs. With this information, coaches and teammates alike are provided with a better understanding of how to support one another during taxing situations on and off the playing field or court.

That is why we are asking you to be the one to make a difference. Because anyone, anywhere, can be the difference in someone’s life. Get trained in Mental Health First Aid today.

Watch New York Giants player, Brandon Marshall, talk about how his wife, Michi Marshall, made the difference in his life.

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