Horizon League Provides Mental Health Grants to Member Institutions

*release courtesy of the Horizon League*

INDIANAPOLIS – The Horizon League, in conjunction with its Board of Directors, announced this week an historic $550,000 investment of League resources to address mental health concerns at each Horizon League institution.

“Our student athletes are often at a higher risk for mental health concerns than the average college student. They must successfully balance rigorous academic schedules with demanding athletic responsibilities. Yet, they out-perform the average college student both in the classroom and athletically,” stated Oakland President and Horizon League Board of Directors Chair Dr. Ora Pescovitz.

“I am proud that the Horizon League has chosen to identify League funds for every one of our universities to provide funding to ensure that our student-athletes have first-rate mental health services to ensure that they continue to be successful in all their endeavors. “

“The Horizon League SAAC and our campus leaders have clearly expressed the need and priority of addressing the mental health needs of our student-athletes. This is the League’s third major initiative aimed at addressing the mental health concerns of our student-athletes. In 2016 , we held the Student-Athlete Development Forum and 2020, we had to pivot to a virtual video series,” said Horizon League Commissioner Julie Roe Lach. “Now, we are committing League financial resources with the full support of our presidents and chancellors to further amplify campus efforts to address the mental health and holistic development of our student-athletes with this grant program.”

In June, the Horizon League Board of Directors approved a strategic spend in the area of ​​mental health for League resources to be distributed to campuses to help address mental health issues and concerns.

Through discussions with various membership groups, including the Horizon League Council, Student-Athlete Development Cabinet and Student-Athlete Safety and Health Subcabinet (SASH), a grant program was developed to allow each campus to identify and address the specific mental health concerns of its student-athletes.

“We are excited about the mental health grant that is being offered to each institution. After conversations, it became clear that every campus has unique needs and challenges, and this grant makes it possible to address those,” commented SASH Chair and Youngstown State Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Jen Tymkew. “We look forward to realizing the positive impact this funding will have on the well-being of our student athletes and are grateful for the support of Commissioner Roe Lach, the Board and Council.”

The approved applications have provided funding going directly toward counseling sessions for student-athletes; educational programming and training for coaches, student-athletes and staff, such as mental health first aid and resilience training; along with other initiatives, such as providing dedicated spaces for student-athletes to rest and recover.

Purdue Fort Wayne’s grant will go towards both topical and relevant workshops and training opportunities, as well as mental health team building. The workshops and training sessions for example will focus on strengthening specific areas such as stress management and improving or building upon other coping skills. The mental health team building exercises will provide a deeper dive into individual teams’ needs. Individual teams and coaches will have the opportunity to tailor the team building exercises to meet their needs.

As part of the application process, institutions were required to not only address how the program or initiative will address mental health concerns on their campus but were also required to include student-athletes in the creation and planning process for the grant application.

“Mental health is such an important issue for student-athletes today and I am grateful that the League has developed this grant program and also included student-athletes as part of the process to determine how to best utilize the funding on each campus,” stated Horizon League SAAC President and RMU Men’s Soccer Student-Athlete Michael Zolnierczyk. “I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact the grant will have on the student-athletes of the Horizon League.”

Additionally, campuses were required to submit their plans for sustainability to continue to provide mental health support for student-athletes after the one-time grant program concludes.

Institutions will also be required to submit a final review of the mental health programs and initiatives, which will include a statement on how the program/initiative is going, how it did or did not meet the stated goal(s), what feedback they received and what went well or what they would do differently.

Information from the review forms will be shared with multiple membership groups as a way to share information between institutions on how to best serve the mental health needs of student-athletes.

~Feel the Rumble~

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