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To Your Health: College Athletes and Mental Health

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Katie Meyer, D1 goalkeeper at Stanford University. Remember her name? Unfortunately, you may not remember her because of the amazing goal save she made against North Carolina in 2019, but because of her death by suicide in 2022 after a struggle with mental illness.

Hello, I’m Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs at Southeast Missouri State University. 1 in 10 college athletes have difficulty functioning due to depression. Mental health concerns are higher with student athletes of color and those who report housing instability, food insecurity and lack of access to health care and appropriate facilities to maintain their training. The most common disorders student athletes struggle with are anxiety, substance abuse, psychosomatic illness, ADHD, eating disorders, and personality disorders.

The NCAA Sport Science Institute and leading mental health organizations across the country developed a seminal publication in support of college athlete mental health and wellness.

There are four practices that should be employed for the benefit of student-athletes and the health of the community. First, ensure that your school has clinically license practitioners providing mental health care. Next, develop procedures for identification and referral of student athletes to qualified practitioners for care. Third, implement mental health screening tools for student-athletes. Finally, create environments that support mental well-being and resilience.

Resources
https://timely.md/blog/student-athlete-mental-health/

https://www.betterup.com/blog/mental-health-in-athletes

https://www.ncaa.org/sports/2014/11/3/mind-body-and-sport-the-psychiatrist-perspective.aspx

NBCUniversal News Group. (2020, August 31). As college sports programs pivot, mental health becomes bigger priority. NBCNews.com. Retrieved March 21, 2022

Content for this segment was created by Esmie Gonzales as part of a project for EA615: Wellness in Higher Education, taught by Dr. Clubbs. She is currently a graduate assistant for the Women’s Soccer team at Southeast and was a SEMO student athlete, playing soccer while she earned her undergraduate degree in Parks and Recreation.

Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Middle & Secondary Education. She writes for special publications of The Southeast Missourian and is a certified Community Health Worker.
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