Big Ten announces mental health cabinet
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and for the Big Ten, it began with the announcement of the Mental Health and Wellness Cabinet.
Why it matters: This is the first major initiative in Kevin Warren's young tenure as the new Big Ten commissioner, and it will help elevate the mental wellbeing of athletes at a time when so much of the focus is on physical health.
Details: The cabinet is composed of 31 experts represented by each of the 14 Big Ten schools plus two affiliates — Notre Dame (hockey) and Johns Hopkins (lacrosse).
- The first tangible change they've made is purchasing subscriptions to Calm, the app aimed at reducing stress and anxiety, for all 9,600 of their student-athletes and coaches. But the general idea is to unify the heretofore siloed efforts to improve mental health.
"This was one of my key pillars, even when I interviewed for the job. This is all about the student-athletes, to tell how much we love, admire, respect, appreciate them, to give them the resources, that we're here, they can talk about it."— Kevin Warren, Big Ten commissioner
The big picture: Led by high-profile athletes like Michael Phelps, Kevin Love and Sean Doolittle, sports have recently experienced a major step forward in the cause of de-stigmatizing mental illness.
- "This is the most overwhelmed I've ever felt in my life. That's why I have times where I don't want to be me," Phelps wrote yesterday in an incredibly transparent story published on ESPN.
The bottom line: The pandemic has pushed mental illness to the background in favor of the more easily-digestible physical aspect of the virus, and in that way, Mental Health Awareness Month has come just in the nick of time.
Go deeper: Some schools give mental health days as young Americans' suicide rate rises