A survey of student-athletes at Ohio University found that 87 percent of the school’s student-athletes believe that “one or more of their teammates could benefit from access to a sports psychologist.”
The survey, conducted by the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, contributed to a bill adopted by the Student Senate, which calls for increased collaboration between academics and athletics in support of the mental health needs of student-athletes. According to the student-run newspaper The Post, the bill also calls for the creation of a conference committee “to discuss specialized mental health counseling for other groups on campus.”
While the school does offer mental health services to all students, including student-athletes, it does not employ the kind of specialized services for the community of student-athletes offered at other institutions. Adam Notestine, a football player and secretary of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, told The Post that “other schools around the MAC had sports-specific psychologists and stuff like that, and we didn’t have any.”
The bill calling for specialized mental health services was sponsored Emily Deering, a track athlete who serves on both the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Student Senate. She applauded the efforts the university is making toward providing care to students, and noted that she’s merely calling for more “accessible, specialized and ongoing” services for particular groups.
“The bill isn’t meant to say that OU or the athletics department isn’t making efforts,” Deering told The Post. “I’m here to keep encouraging the efforts being made and to say that they aren’t enough. We need more.”
“I think as student-athletes, we are thought of as being strong all the time, but in reality, our sports can drain our mental health,” Notestine added. “We feel like we have to stay strong no matter what, and we don’t know what to do.”