Rutgers football providing mental health resources to players


College football players are revered for the physical feats they accomplish in front of a national audience week after week. However, when the lights fade and stadiums empty, some players are faced with another type of battle.

Mental health is something that can be even more precarious as a twisted knee or strained ligament. And college football programs are investing in resources to ensure their players can address any issues that may be hampering their psyches. Rutgers is among those schools and head coach Greg Schiano talked about addressing mental health during Big ten Media Day in Indianapolis.

“I think it’s incredibly important. It’s always been, but I think it’s even more important now. this [cell phone] right here has created something that never was,” Schiano said. “I call it the comparison life. They live a comparison life through social media. And if you ever watch people when they do that, they rake this picture, they take that picture and they take the best picture and they post it. I tell our kids all the time—No.1, you are competing with the best of. And No.2, if you wouldn’t go ask that person for advice, then why do you give a crap what they think. And that’s what you do when you read what somebody says about you. You are letting them rent-free into your brain.”

That has prompted Schiano to devote time, energy and resources for his players mental well-being.

“Mental health, to me, is so important because I can say it as much as I want. You watch kids, what are they doing? Swiping, swiping, swiping,” Schiano said. “I think we really have to help our young people because the pressures are still there; the pressure to succeed. Sometimes the pressure to be the breadwinner in the family is there. But now you have all this external pressure that wasn’t there. The social media pressure, these things that my generation never had to deal with that stuff.”

The efforts to bolster mental health resources for players is not something that just

“I think we have done as good a job or better than anybody in the country in building an infrastructure for our players to have access to mental health professionals 247 and never feel like ‘well I had an issue, I just couldn’t get anybody .’ They know that we have resources to get that done. That was something that was very important to me when they took over.”

The Big Ten Conference has also gotten into the act with this particular issue.

“We’ve provided the Calm app to all of our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators in the Big Ten Conference. The number of active sessions are really incredible when you see the numbers,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said during Big Ten Media Day. “…We’ve done a lot, but this is something I think about every single day that we can do even more. It’s an issue in our country. I’m so concerned about the mental health and wellness for our young people on our campuses, especially our student-athletes. It’s challenging to be a student-athlete in this environment, between social media and the physical demands, the academic demands. So I feel that we’ve had a good start. a good job. But there’s so much more that we can do. We’re working on it every single day to amplify and bring awareness to this issue.”

247Sports correspondent Zion Brown contributed to this article.

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