Hilinski's Hope Launches Mental Health Awareness Week

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Monday marked the beginning of College Football Mental Health Awareness Week, an effort launched by Hilinski’s Hope Foundation aimed at reducing stigma and raising awareness around mental health in the sport.

Hilinski’s Hope, started by Kym and Mark Hilinski, whose son Tyler played football at Washington State University before his death by suicide in 2018, began planning the initiative in March according to Front Office Sports. A total of 17 programs signed on for the program this year, though many more are planning to join in for 2021.

The programming began with the inaugural 3Day, which was held on Oct. 3. Participating programs were encouraged to show their support for those struggling with mental health challenges by showcasing a specially designed helmet sticker — a lime green ribbon with Tyler’s number 3 — and by undergoing an internal evaluation of the program’s support for best practices when it comes to mental health. 

“It’s been really special to see college campuses nationwide come together and support mental health in collegiate athletics since we first launched the #3DAY initiative,” Mark Hilinski said in a release. “#3DAY will be an emotional yet powerful day as schools, fans, students, and parents join us in the fight against mental illness and pledge to be change agents around mental health. The discussions that continue to take place across athletic departments are so crucial for student athletes and we know Tyler would be so proud of the progress we’ve made, but there is still more work to be done.”

Hilinski’s Hope also partnered with the Institute to Promote Athlete Health and Wellness and Prevention Strategies, which on Tuesday offered a livestream event to participating schools.

While the foundation focuses on football, the goal is to bring awareness of mental health challenges to all collegiate sports.

“We focus on football because that’s what Tyler played, that’s what Ryan played and [oldest son] Kelly too, but we want to bring it to all the sports,” Kym told Front Office Sports. “Mental health doesn’t just focus on football players, right? So every student athlete in every sport means so much to us. So yes, this is our inaugural event, but we’re going to take it to every single sport and take it to every single university and college that will join us. We’re not excluding anybody, for sure.”

The foundation hopes to bring the program to more schools in the future with the help of sponsors.

College Football Mental Health Awareness Week culminates with World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10.  

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