HADLEY, Mass. – In an effort spearheaded by the NESCAC Student Advisory Committee on Athletics (SAAC), institutions participated in a conference-wide mental health and wellness week from April 8-14. Institutions hosted a variety of events, workshops, and initiatives throughout the week to promote mental health awareness and encourage mental wellness. NESCAC SAAC used the hashtag #NESCACares on social media to highlight their efforts and track campus activities.
Amherst collaborated with groups on campus to develop a campus-wide mental health week. Self-care activities such as yoga, workshops, and training were available to all students and staff. Wesleyan used social media to highlight how student-athletes work on their own mental well-being and engaged campus clubs to run yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation classes.
Hamilton and Middlebury both highlighted positive thinking and gratitude using public appreciation boards where students and staff could leave notes of encouragement, appreciation, or gratitude. At Hamilton, SAAC hosted a kickball tournament with proceeds benefiting Active Minds. The women’s lacrosse team also hosted a mental health awareness game in which players wore shooting shirts that said “Proud to be Stigma Free.” Middlebury student-athletes wore green ribbons to promote mental health awareness at their games throughout the week. Student-athletes also engaged in an on-campus event called the Mental Health Monologues, which chronicled anonymous stories from individuals across campus relating to mental health.
Williams hosted three “Lunch n’ Learn” sessions with Samantha Livingstone, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming. Livingstone led discussions surrounding burnout, balance, releasing self-doubt, and the concept of comparison. Colby hosted an event in the Cotter Union student center to unify students surrounding mental health. It also organized an “elephant in the room” initiative in which students could write about mental health and post their notes in Cotter Union with the goal of improving awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
Tufts student-athletes worked throughout the week to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and raised more than $3,000 for the organization. The women’s lacrosse team dedicated its weekend games to promoting awareness as student-athletes passed out yellow “Let’s Talk” wristbands at the game.
At Connecticut College, SAAC organized a 3-on-3 basketball tournament to raise money and awareness for Mental Health Connecticut, a statewide, nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve mental health for all Connecticut residents. Trinity held Green Dot events throughout the week, promoting awareness of sexual violence. Although Bates students were engaged in exams throughout the week, they planned study breaks to help students refresh mentally, including a faculty versus student basketball game.
College athletics constituents across the country have identified mental health as a top priority. Information on mental health initiatives and education from the NCAA can be found here.