Mental Wellness & The Student Athlete
Today’s coaches often feel they face mounting pressures to be all things to all people, produce sustained competitive results, and meet the needs of families, administrators, and most importantly, athletes. These unrealistic expectations placed on a single individual continue to escalate mental wellness challenges for those on the front lines who are leading and inspiring our next generation of great athletes. As national statistics and stories continue to unveil the scope of the national mental health crisis, sport must own its part in the problem, evolve to champion meaningful change, and implement proactive solutions that allow coaches to prioritize themselves to better serve others.
Join TrueSport and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for a virtual event as we explore mental wellness and the modern coach. Together, with coaches, experts, and sports administrators, we will address the unique mental health stressors facing coaches and chart an evidence-informed path forward with actionable takeaways for sport influencers.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2023
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Session 1 – Why Coach Mental Health Matters: Prioritizing Self to Best Serve Others
Today’s modern coach often feels they face mounting pressures to be all things to all people. Not only are they expected to produce sustained competitive results but also to meet the needs of many stakeholders including families, sport system administrators, and most importantly, athletes. These unrealistic expectations placed on a single individual continue to escalate mental wellness challenges for those on the front lines, leading and inspiring our next generation of great athletes. As national statistics and stories continue to unveil the scope of the national mental health crisis, sport must own its part in the problem, evolve to champion meaningful change, and implement proactive solutions that allow coaches to prioritize themselves to better serve others.
What does it look like to “coach hard” for sustained performance success and to also be aware and take care of self and athlete wellbeing? Is this possible? Coaches are increasingly facing mounting pressures to be all things to all people. Join us for a candid conversation that will highlight coach voice and experience front and center. Their challenges, their voices, their words.
Session 3 – Effective Communication that Keeps Mental Wellness in Mind
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Speaker: Alex Cohen, PhD, CMPC
Coaches are regularly required to lead in challenging situations. The cumulative effect of the communication of difficult information serves to undermine the sense of mental well-being for many coaches. From navigating individual and community crises to facilitating difficult conversations about a host of topics, coaches need training to support their role as a master communicator to help relieve this source of stress.
Coaches, regardless of the level they coach, are experiencing similar shared stressors across all levels of coaching from playground to podium. This session will address the unique mental health stressors facing coaches of all levels and offer some insightful education and resources from experts in the field diving into practical steps to support coach wellbeing. Following the session introduction, coaches will dive into interactive “practice makes progress” sessions designed to respond to the roundtable discussions through an interactive rotation of focused immersion with qualified experts. From learning how to identify and set healthy boundaries to practical strategies for prioritizing their own personal mental wellness, the outcomes of this session are strategically developed so coaches at any level can experience and activate practical mental wellness tools and walk away feeling confident in their ability to prioritize self so they can better serve others.
- Station 1: Mental Health and Emotional Regulation – Speaker: Kevin Chapman, PhD – Emotions serve an adaptive purpose when understood in a healthy context. Explore the importance of managing and regulating emotions as coaches navigate the stresses of preparation and competition.
- Station 2: Boundaries and Balanced Identity – Speakers: Jessica Bartley, PsyD, MSSW, LP, LCSW, CMPC and Melissa Streno, PsyD – The evolution of a coach’s job description has created an “all things to all people” mentality for many coaches. Identifying ways to set healthy boundaries that maintain a coach’s identity as a healthy individual and that recalibrate the discussion to recognize that coach mental well-being is not a luxury, but rather a necessary part of a successful career.
- Station 3: Making Self-Care Practical is Possible – Speakers: Adam Feit, PhD, CSCS, RSCC*D, SCCC, CMPC and Stephanie Miezin, MS, RD, CSSD – Nutrition, physical health, movement, and mindfulness all play a part in a coach’s mental wellness toolkit. Coaches often find juggling these aspects of self-care difficult while fulfilling their many coaching responsibilities and devoting themselves to these very same issues for their athletes. This rotation provides pragmatic insights for coaches to employ to care for both self and others, creating balance and a better baseline for both physical and mental health.
Academic Advisory Panel
As the conversation around mental health and wellness continues to garner national attention, TrueSport, the outreach education arm of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, seeks to take a deeper look into the challenges coaches, sport administrators, and families are facing with their student-athletes. In connection with the second TrueSport Talks Symposium, TrueSport has enlisted an academic panel to build out a practical, concise, and evidence-based recommendations report. This report will focus wholistically on athlete well-being and suggest a systems approach to help identify opportunities to decrease stigma and increase the overall health of developmental sport culture.
Testimonials from the 2022 TrueSport Talks.
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