The pilot program featured three key elements: brief, engaging videos to reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking; informational presentations for student-athletes and coaches; and informal, drop-in support groups designed to specifically address the unique concerns of student athletes.
The videos feature two former Michigan athletes – football player Will Heininger and swimmer Kally Fayhee – who have successfully addressed their mental health struggles. During the fall of 2014, the videos were shown to every U-M athletic team as part of a presentation that also included information on recognizing the signs and symptoms of depressive illnesses, and strategies for prevention, self-care and help-seeking.
As part of the pilot phase of Athletes Connected, the project team collected data on the three components of the program. All data gathered will serve as the basis for recommendations for the development and implementation of an ongoing, comprehensive initiative to support student-athlete mental health — with the goal of eventually disseminating the model beyond the athletic campus to all U-M students, as well as other campuses nationwide.