Mental Health Awareness Week: Tips for Coaches

GILBERT, Ariz. — In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week (October 6 — 12, 2019), the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) asked 2020 NFHCA Annual Convention featured speaker, Dr. Kelsie Foster, to provide a few mental health tips for coaches to implement with their team.

When mental health concerns are viewed as something that most of us have dealt with, it assists in removing the stigma. It also helps us to openly discuss and address mental health issues without the fear of being stigmatized.

Here are some suggestions for creating a positive mental-health culture with your team:

  • Institute a weekly self-care check-in with all team members, this can be during a regularly scheduled team meeting — each team member should discuss what self-care activity they engaged in during the previous week, and what they plan to do for the upcoming week.
  • Develop a buddy or mentor system in which team members check in with each other during the week, regarding their lives outside of the team.
  • Create an environment in which bullying and stigmatization regarding mental-health issues is not tolerated.
  • For community service projects, choose a project with a positive mental-health focus.
  • Two great resources are the Active Minds organization and the JED Foundation — both offer great resources and program ideas.
  • Initially the coaching staff may have to model these positive behaviors, with the ultimate goal of the team members taking on the responsibility and holding each other accountable.
  • The key to creating a successful mental-health environment will be ongoing dialogue and conversation, and finding out what works for your particular team. There isn't a one-size-fits-all in creating a positive mental health culture, nor when we talk about mental health for each individual.

I look forward to seeing you in at the 2020 NFHCA Annual Convention in January!

Kelsie N. Foster, Ph.D. CRC

The Sport Coach Head Consultant