Big East Hosts Inaugural Mental Health Summit | Athletic Business

Big East Hosts Inaugural Mental Health Summit

On June 15-16, the Big East Conference, in partnership with the NCAA, held its inaugural Mental Health Summit at Georgetown University.

The summit was attended by industry leaders and campus faculty and staff, as well as representatives from the NCAA and the Big East Student-Athlete Athletic Committee (SAAC).

The goal of the summit was to provide institutional personnel with information and insight, enabling them to better meet the mental health needs of their student athletes.

One priority cited by many participants is the destigmatization of mental health issues, ensuring the accessibility of resources and guidance for student-athletes.

In a press release, Big East commissioner Val Ackerman was quoted saying, “The Summit was a great start in terms of bringing more attention to the importance of good mental health for all of our student-athletes.”

She went on to say, “One of our goals is to ease the stigma associated with mental health on our campuses and reassure our student-athletes that sometimes it’s okay to not feel okay. Most of all, we want them to know that we care about them.”

Mental health advocate, University of Tennessee All-American and two-time winner of the Naismith Player of the Year Award Chamique Holdsclaw spoke at the summit, giving an account of her own struggles with depression and bipolar disorder as a student and professional athlete.

Other speakers included ESPN commentator Kate Fagan, who spoke from her book, What Made Maddy Run, sports psychologist Dr. Jessica Mohler, representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and several members of the SAAC.

Emcee Rachel Bonnetta of FOX Sports also shared a personal history of mental challenges during her time as a student-athlete at Seneca College in Toronto.

The Big East SAAC has created a GoFundMe account to raise money and awareness for NAMI. FOX Sports will match donations made to the account, with a cap at $2,000.  

At the conclusion of the summit, attending institutions pledged action to support student-athlete mental health on campus.

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