Bill Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Health Advances | Athletic Business

Bill Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Health Advances

New Mexico state legislators advanced a bill that, if adopted, would provide additional resources to the state’s two NCAA Division I institutions to fund mental health initiatives. 

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Senate Bill 56 would allocate $500,000 each to the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University, with the aim of funding more counselors and psychologists among other mental health initiatives.

The bill advanced by unanimous vote out of the Senate Education Committee after it heard emotional testimony student-athletes and athletics officials. 

“I think they [college athletes] are afraid to ask for help,” Teton Saltes, a football player at the University of New Mexico, said during his testimony. “Football players want to be looked at as tough. There’s a stigma to showing you are vulnerable.”

Saltes shared the story of friend and former teammate Nahje Flowers, who died by suicide at the age of 21. 

“The circumstances that led to his suicide are not unique only to him,” Saltes said of Flowers. 

From ABFocusing on Student-Athletes' Mental Health

The New Mexican cited a 2015 NCAA report that found that suicide was the third leading cause of death among collegiate athletes. 

Athletic directors at both schools testified in support of the bill.

“This isn’t just a UNM issue or an NMSU issue,” New Mexico AD Eddie Nunez said. “This is a nationwide issue. Everybody has to support this cause.”

Despite voting to advance the bill, some members of the committee said that they hoped the initiative would eventually reach beyond just student-athletes at the state’s two largest universities. The legislation now proceeds to the Senate Finance Committee.

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