UMKC Athletics is excited to announce the addition of psychologist, Dr. Sarah Cleary, to its staff. As the mental health needs of student-athletes continue to flourish, the athletics department felt this was an important hire to assist with the long-term health, safety and welfare of its students. Dr. Cleary will work alongside UMKC’s team physicians, led by Dr. Meg Gibson and UMKC’s Athletic Training staff, which is led by Head Athletic Trainer Charlie Emerson.
Committed to the strategic growth of its health services, the UMKC athletics department has added Dr. Cleary in a conscious effort to grow its mental health offerings. Over the past several years the Athletic Training department along with the Student-Athlete Support Services Office (SASSO) have collaborated in taking a proactive approach to mental health. The two units have come together to design mandatory mental health trainings for all 16 of UMKC’s Division I intercollegiate programs, in addition to other education offerings made available to the teams which focus on mindfulness and resilience. The two units work in conjunction to normalize mental health and provide resources for all UMKC Athletics student-athletes and staff. In addition, the two units have made use of social media (@RooMentalHealth) to promote positive thinking, mental health awareness and valuable resources.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Cleary to our sports medicine team,” Emerson noted. “Her expertise in treating mental health concerns fills an important role in providing an integrative approach to the medical care of our student-athletes. Dr. Cleary will be able to meet with students one-on-one, as well as lend her knowledge and experience to enhance our broader mental health initiatives.”
Dr. Cleary will work with UMKC’s student-athlete both in a clinical setting and in the department’s educational programming.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with the UMKC athletics department in my role as a licensed clinical psychologist at Truman Medical Center,” said Cleary. “I have been impressed by the department’s mind-body approach to student well-being.”
The partnership with Dr. Cleary is part of a growing and longstanding relationship between UMKC Athletics and Kansas City’s downtown hospital, Truman Medical Center.
“UMKC Athletics has worked with Truman for several years now, and enjoys a collaborative and robust relationship,” Deputy Athletics Director Ursula Gurney commented. “We are looking forward to continuing to grow the services offered to our students through our partnership with Truman.”
“We are excited to have an onsite psychologist to help meet the mental health needs of our student-athletes,” Gibson added. “This will be a great addition.”
What UMKC student-athletes are saying about the addition of Dr. Cleary:
Marcus Johnson – Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field: “Having the mental health programming sessions at UMKC has been important for student-athletes to understand that mental health is important and it’s ok to not be ok. People tend to brush off the topic because it seems irrelevant to their lives; however, hearing from someone you know that has experienced it [mental health concerns] firsthand really brings the conversation into reality.”
Anna Lillig – Women’s Soccer: “In order to destigmatize mental health, you have to talk about it. Open communication is the best way to make mental health accepted and UMKC Athletics is stepping up to the plate with the team mental health trainings and programming. Everyone can get on the same page and change stereotypes they once had. Most important, everyone can feel safe and supported if they are having mental health issues themselves.”