Shared here is an excerpt of a story in SwimSwam.com about how Athletes Connected program coordinator and athletic department counselor Emily Klueh is assisting Club Wolverine swim club in its mental health training.
By Torrey Hart
Awareness surrounding mental health is on the rise in elite sports, and swimming has been no exception. Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt, among others, have contributed by speaking about their own experiences, but the University of Michigan stands out on the collegiate level for its Athletes Connected program.
Now, program coordinator Emily Klueh is taking her talents to one of Michigan’s top club teams: Club Wolverine.
The club’s program is an “educational introduction” to the various facets of mental health. Group sessions, tailored to be appropriate for each given age group (middle-schoolers and up), might include discussion of any of the following:
- Managing relationships/teammates (with an emphasis on bullying)
- What does depression and anxiety look like, signs and symptoms. How do I help a friend? How do I open up if struggling?
- Understanding the impact of what we say to ourselves and how do we change the negative to a positive?
- Visualization and progressive muscle relaxation
- Performance anxiety
“Our goals of starting the program were to obviously provide a service to our members and the Ann Arbor community, reduce the stigma of mental health and educate the swimmers and parents, and also educate the coaches on how to improve as well,” Head Coach Gunnar Schmidt told SwimSwam. “We also wanted to bring awareness to mental health in our sport and all athletics, and lead Michigan swimming and USA Swimming in the club sense.”
Klueh doesn’t just rattle off information — she teaches athletes how to carry out strategies.
“Having these sessions more interactive is important so there are videos, conversations, questions, and smaller group break out parts. It is important that I not just teach a concept but they understand how to implement it in their lives,” she told SwimSwam. “I also try to add parts on team culture and how to use these concepts not just in their life but in creating a positive team culture.”
Read the rest of the story on SwimSwam.com.