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Mental health is key focus at NCAA Convention

Emphasis on the topic reflects interest from all levels of Association

As a key focus area for the NCAA, mental health was a consistent theme of sessions throughout the 2020 NCAA Convention in Anaheim, California. The emphasis on mental health comes as all levels of the Association are discussing the topic, including the Student-Athlete Advisory Committees in all three divisions.

“Mental health is the single most important health and safety issue facing our student-athletes today,” said Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer. “As an Association, the NCAA is emphasizing mental health among its top priorities, and the International Olympic Committee also is making mental health a priority in global sport. We’re doing a lot, including generating awareness, programming and other educational resources for members and students, and we understand that we must continue to build on these efforts going forward.”

Former Ball State basketball student-athlete Trey Moses was recognized at the Convention with a 2020 NCAA Inspiration Award. The honor is given each year to a current or former NCAA athlete who, when confronted with a life-altering situation, used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome the obstacle to now serve as a role model for hope and inspiration to others in similar situations. Moses has used his own struggles with mental health and the loss of a close friend and teammate as a platform to help others.

At the Convention, the Sport Science Institute also hosted a workshop on creating an inclusive athletics department for mental well-being. The three-part session included a panel of athletes talking about their experiences and two training sessions to assist coaches with empathetic responses to athletes who express mental health concerns.

Other sessions sought to shine a brighter light on mental health, with topics covering collaborative approaches in Division II when mental health intersects with student-athlete identities and building trust between coaches and student-athletes in Division III.

Additional programming also provided a session with key findings on the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program. The program supports research and data-driven pilot projects designed to enhance student-athlete psychosocial well-being and mental health.

Results from the most recent GOALS (Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College) study were also released, with implications on student-athlete mental health and differences between male and female student-athletes.