Mental health is important. But what if we take it one step further and focus on mental health for athletes? Obviously, every specific group of people ever to exist can benefit from mental health awareness, but a high school student in New Mexico felt passionate about honing in on something that is important to her. So she set out to make that change. She writes,
“Growing up in athletics, I’ve observed a high amount of stigma and harm surrounding the mental health of youth athletes in my hometown. Specifically, I’ve had extensive experiences with abusive coaching, toxic environments, and lack of access to mental health resources. I’ve also had many friends who experienced these same issues as they participated in youth athletics. Many coaches, sports organizations, and professionals are ill-informed when it comes to caring for the mental health of youth athletes.”
“My solution is to create a local nonprofit dedicated to prioritizing the mental health of adolescent athletes. This is a need I see in our community and after extensively looking, I don’t feel there are any other organizations doing the work locally (or even nationally) to fill this need.”
“I deserve this scholarship because not only have I researched this topic extensively, but I’ve already put in actionable steps to attain success in this project. I’ve written a 4,000 word thesis concerning the mental health of female athletes and read countless pieces of literature in the field. Additionally, I have met with professionals and designed a website for my project already.”
“Furthermore, this project is a very niche but very necessary one. While there are many organizations that support youth mental health in the U.S., there are little to none that support the mental health of youth athletes. This is despite the fact that research shows how important it is to provide this support for youth athletes.”
We’re cheering on this student not only in her sports but in her advocacy for mental health for her peers as well.
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.