“Big East” Mental Health Summit
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
June 15 & 16th, 2017
On June 15th and 16th, AscendCHC Founder and CEO, Jenny Conviser PsyD, CEDS, CC-AASP, traveled to Georgetown University to participate in the “Big East” Mental Health Summit. As a follow up to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) recent publication on “Best Practices for Student-Athletes Mental Health” (2016), representatives of NCAA’s Big East Conference member institutions gathered in Washington D.C. to discuss strategies for addressing the mental health concerns of collegiate student-athletes.
Representatives attending the summit included athletic trainers, coaches, mental health care providers, athletic department administrators, medical directors, team physicians and student athletes. This multidisciplinary gathering was hosted by Fox Sport’s Rachel Bonnetta, and included panel discussions, lively debate and presentations by many experts including Mary Wilfert and Jessica Gonzales from the NCAA, Darcy Gruttadaro from the National Alliance on Mental Health, ESPN’s Kate Fagan, US Naval Academy’s Jessica Mohler, Georgetown University’s Head Field Hockey Coach Shannon Soares, Georgetown’s Team Physician Blair Heinke, and DePaul University’s Men’s Basketball Team member Peter Ryckbosch.
A sample “coaches training program” targeting supportive communication strategies was introduced by Carol Lucas, Jeff Milroy and David Wyrick from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and professional basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw spoke eloquently on the topic and some of her experiences as an athlete.
It is hoped that this information and discussion regarding mental health in sport will prompt increased awareness of mental health risks among athletes and improve access to mental health support and treatment for student-athletes by 1) increasing awareness of mental health risks among athletes, 2) improving awareness of and access to services and support, 3) improving communication related to emotional well-being, and 4) reducing stigma and bias associated with mental health matters overall.
The Summit promises to be one of many continued forums for identifying and developing strategies to preserve emotional well-being among athletes. The useful Big East Summit prompted much discussion and identified several critical topics for future learning. When Dr. Conviser discussed the summit with Ascend staff the perspectives shared at the Summit align with the values and goals of AscendCHC’s work with athletes. AscendCHC looks forward to more dialogue and attention brought towards the mental health and well-being of our collegiate athletes on the national stage.
Written by Jenny H. Conviser, PsyD, CEDS, CC-AASP,
Founder & CEO ASCEND Consultation in Health Care
Photo Credit: Big East Conference