WEST BABYLON, NY (Apr. 9, 2018) - The East Coast Conference and the conference's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) have declared that the week of April 9-15 will be a Mental Health Awareness Week throughout the league.
The idea for the week highlighting mental health of student-athletes came out of discussions held at the NCAA SAAC Super Regional Convention in Washington, D.C. this past November. After the convention, members of the ECC SAAC wanted to bring awareness and helped spur the idea of a week full of ECC games and events dedicated to the cause.
All week long, ECC student-athletes will be seen wearing lime green t-shirts (the national color associated with mental health awareness) with the phrase "Stop the Stigma" and the hashtag, #itsokay. Both phrases allude to the fact that mental health concerns are nothing to be ashamed of and that it's okay to ask for help.
Some ECC members have also set up events throughout the week such as partnering with counseling centers to set up tables at games, bringing in guest speakers to speak to student-athletes, and campaigns at games such as having teams and spectators write out positive compliments about themselves.
"I am so pleased to see how the athletic programs and student-athletes at all ten of our ECC member institutions have focused on the importance of mental health for all college students," said ECC Commissioner, Dr. Robert Dranoff. "All of college athletics' stakeholders - team members, coaches, administrators, faculty and family members - play a critical role in creating an environment that supports the mental health and well-being of college athletes. They must play a part in supporting these young men and women's health and mental health is a significant part of the student-athlete's well being."
The Queens College Department of Athletics held an #ItsOkay day on Monday (Apr. 9) on the campus quad, with all teams participating in some fashion of the event. The Knights' event, which was put together under the guidance of Director of Sports Medicine Daniel Hernandez, celebrated togetherness and fighting the stigma of mental health disabilities as student-athletes and Queens College students came together for two hours of de-stressing. The campus quad was turned into a large athletic facility with games of frisbee, soccer tennis, football and Kan-Jam; additionally, the event included information tables and counseling services along with arts and crafts to generate a greater vibe of awareness.
The week's events will continue as Queens College will celebrate the #ItsOkay movement on Wednesday (Apr. 11) and Saturday (Apr. 14) as the Knights' women's lacrosse and baseball teams will both be hosting ECC contests with the theme of Mental Health Awareness playing a major role in all of the festivities.