Spiders Kick Off College Football Mental Health Week

Richmond, Va. — The Richmond football team will kick off College Football Mental Health Week (CFMHW) at Saturday’s game at Elon as a part of the special week that begins Oct. 1 and runs through the 8th. Over 115 colleges and universities nationwide will participate, helping break down stigmas surrounding mental health by offering quality resources and letting their student-athletes know they care.

CFMHW, which coincides with Mental Illness Awareness Week, leads up to World Mental Health Day on October 10.

This year, the Spiders will commemorate CFMHW with special helmet decals for Saturday’s game that feature a green ribbon with the #3 for Tyler Hilinksi, a Washington State quarterback who lost his fight to mental health in 2018, and a #28 for Richmond football’s own Gus Lee who also lost his battle the same year.

“Student-athletes face an immense amount of stress and pressure, sometimes beyond what the typical student does, all while trying to compete at the highest level,” said athletics staff psychologist Dr. Rachel Turk. “Supporting their mental health is a critical part of their overall wellbeing and performance. By participating in College Football Mental Health Week this year, we are openly talking about student-athlete mental health to break down the barriers to seeking help and bring awareness.

During the game at Elon, coaches and sideline personnel will also wear lapel pins featuring #3 and #28. Through Hilinski’s Hope Foundation (H3H), founded by Mark and Kym Hilinski to honor the legacy of their son, schools participating were sent tool kits including cheerleader ribbons, jersey patches, pins and wristbands. 

“This game and week are important from a student-athlete standpoint because it allows us all to come together as student-athletes to work on breaking the stigma that surrounds mental health. It is an opportunity for us to create a positive change, not only for our school but for others around the world,” said redshirt senior quarterback Braxton Hughes, the team’s mental health liaison. 

This year, Richmond athletics has done the following to increase education and awareness surrounding mental health and overall well-being:

  • Every student-athlete had a pre-participatory mental health screen and met with a mental health clinician to discuss their results and any other mental health concerns they may have had heading into the year.
  • Every team has completed a Mental Health 101 training to education on signs and symptoms to look for, barriers to seeking treatment, how to help, and services and resources on campus.
  • Every coaching staff and primary support staffs have also received a yearly mental health education.
  • Richmond hosts Wellness Wednesday once  per month to encourage self-care and overall wellbeing by providing several activities including therapy dogs and massage chairs.
  • Each team identified a mental health liaison to be a point of contact and help with programming and messaging. They partnered with SAAC mental health & wellbeing reps, Morgans Message reps, and AsYouAre reps (our on-campus student-athlete mental health group)
  • All student-athletes also have access to individual therapy services for both mental health and sports performance and several teams have set up additional team sessions.

Saturday’s game will look to bring light to the subject of mental health, while paying respect to those who have suffered and are suffering, including one of their own. 

Athletics Mental Health Resources

NAMI Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988

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