Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Athletics and Mental Health - Day 1

The month of May is traditionally set aside for "Mental Health Awareness" and in the last decade I have become more acutely aware of making sure that coaches understand the need to include education and training in their respective sports.

These posts are meant to deal with early awareness and milder cases... before the issues become acute or chronic.

In April 2020, the Alabama High School Athletics Association central board passed a resolution requiring a mental health course as mandatory professional development and requirement for coaching credentials.

This is NOT an easy topic. If you ever read articles online or social media posts, you see a lot of hurt, pain, misunderstanding, and pushback. I am merely bringing the issue to light for coaches and athletes in particular.

Over the course of this spring, I have had some dialogue with individual students and coaches about the need for this awareness and we discussed important helps and strategies.

Those conversations, along with a lot of reading and research on the topic will culminate in a series of posts throughout the month.

Obviously, I am not a certified counselor or expert in these areas and we must always be prepared to send concerns to proper professionals in this area. Not many people are aware that you can even dial 911 if there is concern over any kind of mental health crisis. And most emergency rooms are equipped to handle crisis events as well.

Mental Health Awareness isn't just about suicide ideation.... it is more comprehensive than that. But suicide is something we can all be trained in being alert to the warning signs.

As far as statistics go, according the the Jason Foundation website (https://jasonfoundation.com/):

For middle and high school age youth (ages 12-18), suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death. *

For college age youth (ages 18-22), suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death. *

Over-all, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for our youth ages 10-24. *


In ages 10 – 14, we have seen an alarming increase in suicides. The number of suicides for this group has more than doubled since 2006, making it the second leading cause of death for that age group.

More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.

Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 3,703 attempts by young people grades 9-12. If these percentages are additionally applied to grades 7 & 8, the numbers would be higher.

The Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System (YRBS) is a survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that includes national, state, and local school-based representative samples of 9th through 12th grade students. The purpose is to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth in the United States. The surveys are conducted every two years to determine the prevalence of these health risk behaviors. Behaviors that contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and those that indicate possible depression and/or suicidal ideation are included https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/index.htm

Throughout the month, I plan to do 8-10 posts that outline some analysis and help. 

Please feel free to reach out to me if you are willing to participate in this month's series of posts. 

The more coaches who are aware and educated can truly be life savers on the front lines of an epic struggle!

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