In an effort to improve mental well-being among student-athletes, MindWise Innovations, a service of Riverside Community Care, visited all nine NCAA Division I America East campuses over the past school year. The MindWise team conducted extensive training sessions on suicide prevention, bystander intervention, and psychological safety for over 2,000 student-athletes and hundreds of coaches and staff.
Read the story below, and click here for an overview: America East Infographic
MindWise Innovations Partnership Provides Crucial Mental Health Education to Member Institutions
May is Mental Health Awareness Month but in the America East Conference, bettering the mental well-being of student-athletes is much more than a month-long focus. This year, America East partnered with MindWise Innovations, a service of Riverside Community Care, to provide comprehensive mental health education training to each of the conference’s member institutions.
MindWise made visits to all nine America East campuses between October and April, with the sessions including extensive training, resources, and group-specific programming designed for coaches and administrators, as well as the conference’s student athletes. Key topics addressed included suicide prevention, bystander intervention, communication skills, psychological safety, coping mechanisms and a thorough review of best practices for referrals in crisis and non-crisis situations.
“It has been an honor to be in conversation with hundreds of coaches and staff, and over two thousand student athletes through these campus visits,” said MindWise Chief Behavioral Health Officer, Lisa Desai. “The dedication to their sport and the openness to learn ways to support the mental well-being of their peers and athletes were clear and impressive. These topics can be difficult to talk about, but it’s so important for coaches, athletes, and staff to be equipped with the right knowledge and tools.”
“The need for investment in mental well-being of young people has never been more evident,” said America East Commissioner, Brad Walker. “We are thankful to MindWise for providing crucial education resources to our student-athletes, coaches and administrators and fostering engaging and sometimes difficult discussions.”
“A psychologically safe team culture that supports athletes during times of victory and times of struggle is needed now more than ever,” continued Desai. “Given the NCAA’s recent announcement requiring DI schools to provide mental health resources as of 2024, we know the work is just beginning.”
America East has proven to be a leader in emphasizing mental health, wellness and safety. The America East Board of Presidents approved a significant financial investment for this mental health education initiative in June. In 2018, America East and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) took the next step towards destigmatizing mental health through the establishment of its #BetterTogether campaign. The initiative focuses on creating more mentally healthy environments for student-athletes across all nine America East campuses through education, outreach, events and more.
In 2019, America East became the first non-autonomy conference to adopt an NCAA proposal that mandated each institution make mental health services and resources available to its student-athletes through the department of athletics and/or the institution’s health services or counseling services department. America East has hosted annual Mental Health workshops since 2019.
About America East
Founded in 1979, the America East Conference consists of nine member institutions, sponsors championships in 18 sports and provides its member schools and their athletic programs a platform upon which student-athletes can achieve both collegiate and life success through the promotion and nurturing of athletic excellence, academic achievement and leadership, on and off the field.
Current America East member schools are: University at Albany (Albany, NY), Binghamton University (Vestal, NY), Bryant University (Smithfield RI), University of Maine (Orono, ME), University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Catonsville, MD), University of Massachusetts, Lowell (Lowell, MA), University of New Hampshire (Durham, NH), New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, NJ), and University of Vermont (Burlington, VT).
About MindWise Innovations
With the goal of shaping the current and future state of behavioral health for the better, MindWise Innovations provides evidence-based mental health and substance use services such as educational programs, training, consultation, and crisis response for schools, organizations, and mental health professionals. Headquartered in Dedham, Massachusetts, MindWise is powered by Riverside Community Care, a non-profit leader in behavioral health and human services.