Mental Health

NCAA summit focuses on mental health and well-being of student-athletes of color

Approximately 50 professionals from mental health, higher education and sports medicine organizations discussed mental health disparities facing student-athletes of color and reflected on ways to better support them.

Mental health is key focus at NCAA Convention

As a key focus area, mental health was a consistent theme of sessions throughout the 2020 NCAA Convention. The emphasis on mental health comes as all levels of the Association are discussing the topic.

Panel discusses realities of student-athlete well-being

An NCAA Convention workshop explored health, safety and wellness challenges facing student-athletes to both address the issues and raise awareness of the resources available, helping participants develop an action plan to address the specific needs of their respective athletics departments.

Mental Health Summits and Task Forces

The NCAA Sport Science Institute is committed to serving and educating student-athletes, athletics departments and member schools. To help accomplish this goal, we collaborate with prominent medical and sports medicine organizations, leading experts in the field, and member schools to host sport- and topic-specific summits and task forces each year. These events give rise to best practices, recommendations, research agendas and educational efforts that support and promote the health and safety of college athletes.

Mental Health Data and Research

Collecting and analyzing data, and then using those data to make informed decisions, is central to what we do at the Sport Science Institute. We work closely with NCAA research staff in support of efforts that promote a safe and healthy environment for college athletes competing in all sports.

Located on this page are data and research related to the mental health and well-being of college athletes.

Mental Health Educational Resources

The NCAA Sport Science Institute is a leader in providing health and safety resources to college athletes, coaches, athletics administrators and campus partners. Together with leading medical organizations, behavioral health centers and content matter experts, the SSI provides educational resources for member schools to promote and support the health and well-being of student-athletes. 

Located on this page are materials and resources related to the mental health and wellness of college athletes. 

Mental Health Best Practices

The NCAA Sport Science Institute and leading mental health organizations across the country have developed a seminal publication in support of college athlete mental health and wellness, an Inter-Association Consensus Document: Best Practices for Understanding and Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness (Mental Health Best Practices).

An outcome of the NCAA Mental Health Task Force and a practical extension of the NCAA publication Mind, Body and Sport: Understanding and Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness, the Mental Health Best Practices was developed and endorsed by twenty-five of the most prominent mental health, medical, higher education, and sports medicine organizations in the nation and was designed to offer resource-independent recommendations for member schools to support and promote student-athlete mental wellness in partnership with campus stakeholders.

Included on the sidebar is a summary of the four inter-association best practices as well as downloadable resources for athletics departments and university partners to use in the implementation of all best practices on their campuses.

Click here to access resources designed to help athletics department staff, conference offices and campus stakeholders implement the Mental Health Best Practices.

Mental Health Best Practices Endorsing Organizations

  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine
  • Association for Applied Sport Psychology
  • Association of Black Psychologists
  • College Athletic Trainers’ Society
  • Collegiate Clinical/Counseling Sport Psychology Association
  • Faculty Athletics Representatives Association
  • Higher Education Mental Health Alliance
    • American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
    • American College Counseling Association
    • American College Health Association
    • American College Personnel Association
    • American Psychiatric Association
    • American Psychological Association
    • Association for University and College Counseling Directors
    • The Jed Foundation
    • NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
  • International Society for Sport Psychiatry
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Athletic Trainers’ Association
  • Society for Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology
  • Sleep Research Society

A pragmatic approach

The University of Michigan was one of six awardees that received an NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant in 2014, the first year of the program. The grants are intended to provide tangible benefits to student-athletes, by both informing research geared toward their wellness and more directly, by creating programming aimed at enhancing well-being and mental health outcomes.

Mental health referral for student-athletes: Web-based education and training

Physically and mentally healthy student-athletes are in a good position to thrive academically, socially, and athletically. Unfortunately, many student-athletes fail to get the mental health help they need due to lack of knowledge and/or concerns about mental health stigma. The purpose of this innovation in practice program was to educate NCAA student-athletes via a multimedia, interactive website to enable student-athletes to gain the necessary knowledge, confidence, and skills to make effective mental health referrals. Because this program is web-based, it has the potential to affect student-athlete well-being and mental health across NCAA divisions, geographic regions, and resource availability levels.

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