Promoting mental health awareness has become a national initiative within collegiate athletics and is a core goal of the UMKC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Athletic Department. This week’s home volleyball match marked the first of many games to promote mental health wellness. In collaboration with K-State Athletics, student-athletes and fans were able to learn about the various campus and athletic resources available for mental health and to encourage attendees to live “#StigmaFree” and destigmatize the conversations around mental health.
UMKC campus partners including Counseling Services and the Women’s Center, along with the non-profit organization Caregivers on the Homefront, provided attendees with informational giveaways and engaging activities prior to the start of the game. “We love partnering with campus and showcasing the great organizations available to students to help promote mental health awareness,” said Amelia Howard, Assistant Director of Academic Support. “In addition to promoting UMKC resources, we wanted to include K-State and demonstrate a united effort in supporting our student-athletes’ mental health. We were able to recognize their programming and join with them on social media to promote our combined message of support.”
Arin Dunn, Director of Student-Athlete Development at Kstate, worked closely with Howard to enhance the collaboration of the event and awareness promotion. Dunn said, “This past week we had a great opportunity to partner with UMKC in an effort to help raise awareness about mental health. This is such an important issue that everyone should be aware of, and we were grateful and appreciative of UMKC’s invitation to join them in this movement. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff all realize the importance of raising awareness to this issue and were passionate about teaming up with UMKC to get the word out. This was another great example of how we can utilize sports to bring awareness to important issues. We look forward to working with UMKC on this as well as other important causes in the future.”
Hosted during National Suicide Prevention Week, the mental health awareness game allowed the conversation around mental health to be shared, specifically with student-athletes. UMKC SAAC President, and Women’s Soccer Senior, Anna Lillig, is a passionate advocate for mental health. Lillig said, “As a student-athlete, we can deal with two types of injuries – physical and emotional. And both should be treated the same way. The stigma involved with mental health is that we can’t see it on the outside. The more student-athletes who stand up and support mental health advocacy, the more normalized talking about mental illness will become.”
For more information on UMKC Athletics’ mental health programming, please follow @RooMentalHealth on Twitter.