Mental health is such a buzzword right now. It’s finally getting the recognition and attention it deserves! There’s still so much work to be done in the world with the overall aspect of mental health and the accessibility to it, and a high school student in New Mexico not only realizes this but is working towards changing it. She writes,
My goal is to create a local nonprofit dedicated to prioritizing the mental health of adolescent athletes. This is a need I see in our community as I and many other adolescent athletes in New Mexico suffer from mental health issues related to our sports. After extensively looking, I don’t feel there are any other organizations doing the work locally (or even nationally) to fill this need.
My goal is to have three branches of this organization-
1. Outreach: This branch would be responsible for creating a new coaches and athletes curriculum dedicated to improving athletes’ well-being in sports. This branch would also be in charge of spreading this curriculum to school teams and other private club sports organizations in the community.
2. Advocacy: This branch would be in charge of creating legislative and policy teams in certain organizations. For example, one idea I have is to reform APS health classes in how it approaches mental health subjects and specifically nutrition.
3. Community: This branch would be responsible for running the organization’s social media pages and creating a website with resources for athletes themselves to access. I’ve already started on the website and hope to finish it soon.
While this is a huge project to take on and one that very well may not be successful, it’s an idea I’ve had for a long time and I finally feel brave enough to approach it. There are some logistical aspects I’m not sure how to go about but I’m willing to put in the work and learn from others in order to attempt to make this a success.
I have the support of a community service coordinator at my school and I have connections with multiple mental health professionals who could help. I have a fair amount of time to commit to this project and I’ve done extensive academic research regarding adolescent athletes’ mental health. I plan to connect with more athletic professionals in my state to promote this curriculum I hope to design for adolescent sports organizations. I also plan to connect with government resources to make this a certified non-profit in my state.