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SOURCE: Mid-American Conference

All-day event in Cleveland to focus on student well-being

Cleveland, Ohio – The Mid-American Conference will host its third bi-annual Mental Health Summit to focus on student well-being on Monday, February 11, at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.

The Mental Health Summit, which will be attended by MAC membership and invited guests, will include special guest speakers and consist of interactive workshops on student-athlete mental health issues ranging from suicide and self-harm prevention, identifying problems, seeking help and access to care, discussing solutions and highlighting best practices on member campuses.

At the request of the MAC Council of Student-Athletes (COSA), the Summit will focus on identifying, discussion and treating suicide and self-harm prevention.

“It is an honor to be a part of a conference that is at the forefront of destigmatizing mental health struggles,” said Ohio University senior track and field student-athlete, Emily Deering. “Through the tremendous efforts of MAC athletes, coaches, and administration there has been an influx of mental health support available to student athletes. I joined the Ohio Bobcats in the Fall of 2015 and since then, our Student Athlete Advisory Committee has forged lasting relationships across campus, uniting many groups for the first time. It is together that we endeavor to normalize the conversation and create an empowering space for all who wish to join us on our way.”

Guest speakers include:

Dr. Vincent Caringi, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

Dr. Michelle Romero, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Sara Lee, Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Associate Director of the Adolescent Medicine Fellowship at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Emily Deering, Ohio University, track and field student-athlete

Luke Wollet, former Kent State University football student-athlete

The concept of a Mental Health Summit originated from the MAC’s Mental Health Task Force which presented its recommendations at the MAC Joint Council meeting in May, 2015.

“I applaud the efforts of our member institutions and their dedication to ensuring that the student-athlete voice is heard,” said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher.  “Our student-athletes are focused on changing the culture around issues of mental health and our administrators and staff are committed to the “It’s ok to not be ok” initiative begun five years ago by the student-athletes. The membership continues to dedicate resources and provide assistance in the area of mental well-being.  There is great work being done and it is due to a tremendous collaborative effort.”

MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher created the MAC Mental Health Task Force in 2013 in order to review and analyze student-athlete mental health and well-being at MAC membership campuses.  The MAC Mental Health Task Force, now a standing Student-Athlete Well-Being Committee, presented findings and results to MAC membership in May, 2015, and recommended a three-pronged approach to the mental health issues of students to include proactive actions, best practice recommendations and follow-up protocol with appropriate personnel. 

These recommendations mirror the NCAA Mental Health Best Practices that were endorsed by the MAC following the 2016 MAC Mental Health Summit. The MAC Joint Council approved the recommendations and MAC membership has been implementing these recommendations since their endorsement.

The Mental Health Summit also falls as part of the MAC Mental Health Awareness Week, a COSA initiative with support of membership administrations to bring awareness to mental health issues.

“The MAC has always been a national leader in branding to garner exposure for our athletes, recruits, and conference members. We are now at a tipping point in this country where one out of three athletes will be diagnosed with a clinical mental health issue,” said former Kent State University football student-athlete, Luke Wollet.  “There is no better national exposure than to create a safe and stigma-free environment in our conference. We want every recruit, athlete, and their families to know that it’s ‘okay to not be okay’. When you are in the MAC, we care more about where you finish, not where you start.”

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of 10 members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in five states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.

Current MAC schools and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947). The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio.