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Student-Athlete Mental Health Awareness Week Kicks Off on Saturday

by Brad Muller

Student-Athlete Mental Health Awareness Week starts this Saturday, September 30 and runs through Saturday, October 7, and the Gamecock Sports Science Mental Health division of South Carolina Athletics continues be at the forefront in providing a wide variety of resources for student-athletes.

“It’s about doing the little things to take care of your mental health, whether that is managing stress, making time for friends and fun, or something else, it’s important to make time to take care of you.” said Sarah Noll, South Carolina’s Director of Mental Health. “We are focusing our week on building community, creating awareness around mental health, and education.

“This is the week that the Hilinskis (family for former South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski) started as College Football Mental Health Awareness Week, and it’s now expanded to all student-athletes. South Carolina is participating along with close to 170 other schools across the country. It’s a big deal, and it coincides with Mental Illness Awareness Week.”

To kick off the week, South Carolina has partnered with the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center to offer two opportunities for free mental health first aid training for staff and student-athletes. Both will be in person and the training will be held at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center in the Athletics Village. The first training will be on Sunday, October 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the second training will be on Monday, October 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mental Health First Aid is a course that teaches how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

“The BLEC has trained over 600 persons in Mental Health First Aid throughout the Midlands Region,” said BLEC Executive Director Cindye Richburg Cotton. “The BLEC is building a safety net of mental health first aid responders to respond to persons who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and mental health issues.

“We also provide all mental health first aid responders with a list of resources so that they can refer others for help or assistance.”

To sign up for the training, click here.

There will be several other activities during the week in the heart of the Athletics Village.

“We have also partnered with Healthy Campus Initiatives to provide a mindful moment on Wednesday that will be held in the lobby of the Dodie from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.,” Noll said. “Liliann Pineda , the Program Coordinator of Resilience and Mindfulness with Healthy Campus Initiatives, is going to be teaching different mindfulness skills, and participants can create their own stress ball.

“On Thursday (October 5), there will be yoga in the greenspace in the Athletics Village from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Then on Friday, we are planning to have some food trucks here for dinner in that same space between the Rice Athletics Center and the Dodie. The student-athletes can just come, have some community, and talk a little bit about mental health. We’ll have some of our mental health professionals out there, and we’ll have some giveaways.”

South Carolina’s Athletics teams have already been promoting mental health awareness at recent home games and will continue to do so at the volleyball match on Sunday, October 1 as the Gamecocks host Florida at 2 p.m. and at the men’s soccer game on Saturday, October 7 when the garnet and black host Old Dominion at 7 p.m.

South Carolina Athletics is proud to provide complete medical, physical, mental, and emotional care for its student-athletes, including a staff of licensed mental health practitioners within several disciplines who are trained in individual counseling.