Notre Dame is committed to supporting the mental health of its student-athletes and coaches. We are dedicated to increasing awareness of mental health issues, reducing the stigma of mental illness, and making appropriate referrals when necessary. The Notre Dame athletic department supports the idea of assisting student-athletes and coaches both on and off the playing field with mental wellness.
Mental health affects the way we make decisions, form relationships with others and handle stress. According to MentalHealth.gov, mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Many factors can increase and influence mental health within adolescents. A child’s stressors could affect the way they think and act. Stressors could include a fight with a best friend, losing a starting spot on the basketball team, parents going through a divorce, or even worrying about money.
The iGeneration, or those born in 1995 or later, have experienced far more traumatizing and distressing events than any other generation. They do not remember a time without internet. The ability for information to become viral is normal - with permission or not. iGen’s are at the forefront of the worst mental health crisis in decades, according to the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). Students have lived through school shootings, witnessed a polarizing election, observed racial and social injustice and are experiencing mental wellness breakdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic. Individually, these are all life-altering events for young people to live through and collectively, can wear on a person’s mental health. Early intervention in is key.
Everyone is going through something. The CDC reports that at least 1 in 5 children are diagnosed with a mental health disorder and the World Health Organization (WHO) writes that suicide is the third leading cause in death among teenagers. According to the NCAA, the athletics arena can assist in providing an atmosphere in which student-athletes and coaches can normalize mental health. We want to reduce the stigma of having a mental health disorder by communicating our feelings. Administration and coaches help this by becoming a trusted adult to a child. Coaches should not judge about the way someone is feeling and should show support through responsible communication. We know that athletics can promote self-confidence in people and help form relationships. Sport paves the way for an inclusive environment for all student-athletes and coaches.
All Notre Dame coaches go through a basic training on early prevention of mental health situations and they learn the warning signs of adolescents at risk of a mental disorder.
Notre Dame follows the be nice action plan which includes:
Notice. Notice what is right and what is good about someone so you can notice when something is different about the way that person is thinking, acting or feeling.
Invite. Invite yourself to have a conversation. Think of ways you can make a change on how others are treated. Inviting involves taking a risk to reach out.
Challenge. Challenge the individual to seek help and know the resources. Challenge the stigma.
Empower. Empower yourself with knowledge around your own mental health. Empower yourself to be a leader and a positive role model.
Notre Dame encourages communication from student-athletes, coaches and parents to reduce the stigma of someone experiencing a mental health disorder or situation. Notre Dame is not licensed to make a diagnosis, but coaches and athletic administration are given mental health education and tools that can be used to recognize early signs and symptoms of mental illness. Coaches and athletic administration will direct individuals to seek professional help when necessary.
Our coaches and/or administration have participated in the following mental health professional development and will continue to learn from research.
· Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals Student Mental Health Summit 2019, 2020
· Leadership Training Institute 628: Mental Health and Wellness for the Student-Athlete course
· benice organization school member
· Mental Health First Aid certified
· National Federation of High School: Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention course