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America East Invests in Mental Health Education with MindWise Partnership

Continuing its commitment to bettering the mental well-being of its student-athletes, America East announced on Tuesday a partnership with MindWise Innovations to provide comprehensive mental health education training to each of the conference’s member institutions.

The partnership, which will include extensive day-long training sessions on each of America East’s nine schools, will consist of distinct programing and resources for coaches, student-athletes, and administrators. Mindwise clinicians will spend time with each campus community prior to conducting the training to better understand its unique structure, climate and obstacles around student-athlete mental well-being.

“America East has long since been a leader in student-athlete mental health and now is the time to invest more time and resources into this important issue,” said America East Commissioner, Brad Walker. “We want to support our student-athletes by empowering and training those around them on how best to communicate and care for them. The daily demands and pressures on student-athletes have never been higher and the pressure student-athletes place on themselves has never been greater. We are confident this partnership with MindWise will provide them, coaches and staff with the resources and tools needed to maintain healthy mental well-being.”

Programming will center on suicide prevention, bystander intervention, communication skills, psychological safety, coping mechanisms and a thorough review of best practices for referrals in crisis and non-crisis situations.

“MindWise Innovations is honored to partner with America East to provide a comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention program across its campuses,” said MindWise Chief Behavioral Health Officer, Lisa Desai. “Suicide is the second most common cause of death among college students, and while playing sports provides rewards and protective factors, it can also bring unique pressures. Our goal is to equip student-athletes, coaches and athletic staff with consistent language, tools, and resources to address mental health struggles in practical and actionable ways, while creating pathways for support within and between athletic departments.”

Campus visits begin this week with the first session taking place at Binghamton University on Wednesday, October 5 with NJIT and UAlbany to follow later in October. All nine campuses will have sessions during the 2022-23 academic year.

“We applaud America East’s leadership for their progressive vision and commitment to prioritizing the well-being of their student-athletes and athletic professionals,” said Desai.

America East has proven to be a leader in emphasizing mental health, wellness and safety. The America East Board of Presidents approved a significant financial investment for this mental health education initiative in June. In 2018, America East and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) took the next step towards destigmatizing mental health through the establishment of its #BetterTogether campaign. The initiative focuses on creating more mentally healthy environments for student-athletes across all nine America East campuses through education, outreach, events and more.

In 2019, America East became first non-autonomy conference to adopt an NCAA proposal that mandates each institution make mental health services and resources available to its student-athletes through the department of athletics and/or the institution’s health services or counseling services department. America East has hosted annual Mental Health workshops since 2019.

 

About America East
Founded in 1979, the America East Conference consists of nine member institutions, sponsors championships in 18 sports and provides its member schools and their athletic programs a platform upon which student-athletes can achieve both collegiate and life success through the promotion and nurturing of athletic excellence, academic achievement and leadership, on and off the field.

About MindWise Innovations
With the goal of shaping the current and future state of behavioral health for the better, MindWise Innovations supports the full continuum of mental health – from prevention to crisis response – with evidence-based solutions that educate and prioritize health for all ages. Headquartered in Dedham, Massachusetts and powered by Riverside Community Care, MindWise is a non-profit leader in integrated behavioral health and human services.