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Colorado College Athletics partners with Children's Hospital Colorado to support student athlete mental health

School created a "peer coaching program" in which clinical psychologists come to campus and teach select athletes
Posted at 10:26 AM, Nov 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-28 12:26:54-05

Colorado College Athletics and Children's Hospital Colorado have partnered to identify and support the mental health and wellness needs of student athletes.

"We lost a couple of students a couple years ago," Colorado College Director of Athletics Lesley Irvine said. "So some of this came out of a call from our students to increase support and take action as leadership to bring some resources to the table."

The first step was creating a mental wellness survey system, piloting the project with 400 student athletes.

"We learned a lot," Irvine said. "We talk a lot about what we think athletics does for students, but it actually gave us some data to say, 'Here are the benefits of athletics outside of just the physical.'"

The student athletes scored high in areas like hope and a sense of belonging. Colorado College Director of Sport Performance and Wellness Rich Bennett said the results also indicated an interest in the issue of mental health.

"We've found our college athletes are really talking about mental health and they're looking for support and additional resources," Bennett said.

Colorado College and Children's Hospital Colorado created a "peer coaching program," in which clinical psychologists come to campus and teach ten hours worth of classes over three days to select student athletes.

"What the peer coaching is doing is teaching them how to listen, how to communicate and how to find resources in the community to help them," Bennett explained. "I think it empowers our student athletes to be better support for their fellow students."

Lesley Irvine said feedback has been positive so far.

"They really feel like they've been this superpower to use to be a better teammate and a better leader on the team," Irvine smiled.

The athletic department wants Colorado College to set the standard of making mental health resources just as accessible as physical.

"We're going through a tremendous amount of success as an athletic department right now, we've been very focused on chasing championships," Irvine said. "So part of this is making sure our student athletes are set up in a way that they have holistic support."

Colorado College hopes this becomes a national model and normalizes partnering with experts in the field to help student athletes.

Colorado College & Children's Hospital support CC's student athletes