The mental health and wellbeing of student-athletes has been an issue increasingly coming to the fore of college athletics — especially since the tragic death by suicide of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski.
In January, ESPN reported that each of the Power 5 conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — unanimously passed legislation requiring member schools to provide mental health services to student-athletes.
Now, conferences themselves are putting their weight behind supporting mental health as an issue. The Pac-12 Conference, where Hilinski competed as a student-athlete, announced on Monday that it had approved measures to increase the resources available to student-athletes to support their mental health. In a release, the Conference announced that it had extended annual funding of the Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative for an additional five years, with a program review scheduled after three years. In sum, $3.6 million will be extended annually to the Initiative, with $1.1 million going to on-campus mental health services. The $1.1 million figure represents an increase over previous funding levels devoted to mental health.
Meanwhile, the ACC hosted its first Mental Health and Wellness Summit on Tuesday, with Mark and Kym Hilinski — Tyler’s parents — serving as keynote speakers.
MyrtleBeachOnline.com reports that the summit represents the ACC’s first formal steps to address mental health concerns for its athletes.
“They are why we’re here,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said of the conference’s student-athletes. “And valuing and nourishing the psychological, mental and physical health of our most precious and valuable assets, our student-athletes, has to be number one.”
A conference spokesperson told MyrtleBeachOnline.com that the ACC summit was attended by about 25 athletes from a number of sports. Attendees took part in seminars with titles such as “Student-Athlete Mental Health 101: There’s No Health Without Mental Health,” and “Self-Care and Stress Management.”