by: Eric M. Kussin

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04 February 2019

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Providence College #SameHere Sit-Down

Incredible experience at Providence College. At each of these #SameHere🤙Sit-Downs we come away w some new learnings. This visit, no exception.

 

The main talk took place w the entire base of athletes last night, mandatory. We’ve learned how many lives we change/save when these events are mandatory, bc MOST college students still see this topic as a #1in5 “mental illness” topic instead of a #5in5 mental health/wellness/life challenges topic.  Therefore, when voluntary, we only get 2 groups of students: 1) the ones diagnosed w disorder, & 2) the ones who are our future psychologists/therapists who just love the topic.

 

Making it mandatory gets the students who DON’T think this topic is for them, to attend, & see it from a whole new perspective. I applaud the Friars (specifically John Rock, Jenn Cunningham & their AD, Bob Driscoll), for their leadership.

 

Not going to lie – despite having 3 presenters of diff backgrounds: Eric Kelly, Jim Dowd & Asheton “Smasheton” Browne – the Q & A at the end wasn’t as interactive as it’s been at other visits. Many factors go into that…but, we went over 2 hrs & these students were STILL engaged.

 

Presenters had students reach out to us individually, after on social media/email, wanting to talk personally. Sometimes…these programs act as conversation STARTERS. The groundwork of #5in5 needs to be laid, & then the coaches/professors/counselors can take it from there.

 

This morn we met w the coaches – ALL head coaches – pic in the top right. It was an amazing 1:30 discussion abt our roles as leaders in helping these students open up. Big props to Providence’s Head Basketball Coach, Ed Cooley (he helped set a tone in the room about the vulnerability/transparency of leaders abt our own stuff we go through). Maybe it’s no wonder his team has had a nice long run of making it to the NCAAs.

 

Biggest learning that I came away w at that session however – is how student athletes are often afraid to speak, for fear of losing playing time. It’s on us as leaders/coaches to make it clear we treat a MH “injury” no diff than a physical one.

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