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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
Best Practice No. 1

Clinical Licensure of Practitioners Providing Mental Health Care

Schools are encouraged to ensure that the mental health care of a college athlete is provided by a licensed individual who is qualified to provide mental health services.


Sample Mental Health Procedures

Best Practice No. 2

Procedures for Identification and Referral of Student-Athletes to Qualified Practitioners

Athletics departments are encouraged to work with sports medicine and campus mental health services to develop written emergency and non-emergency action plans for situations in which college athletes face a mental health challenge.


Emergency Action Plan Recommendations

Best Practice No. 3

Pre-Participation Mental Health Screening

Schools are encouraged to develop and apply mental health screening tools, as well as a written mental health referral plan, prior to a student-athlete’s initial participation in college athletics.

Best Practice No. 4

Health-Promoting Environments That Support Mental Well-Being and Resilience

Athletics departments are encouraged to educate student-athletes, coaches, and faculty athletics representatives to help create a culture that promotes care seeking and mental well-being and resilience.