Big turnout for mental health conference

December 6, 2018
Danielle Joubert
Students leading conference on mental health

In the header photo, Dr. Kim Quinn ‘88 speaks about social media and student athletes, the most attended breakout session. In the photo above, Hope Happens Here student-presenters Anne Martin, Pat Doherty and Brandon Miller talk during the session they led. Pat and Anne are co-presidents of HHH. (photos by Danielle Joubert ’20)

The Vermont Principals Association conference was hosted by Saint Michael’s College this past Friday, November 30, with events taking place all day long across campus. Lecture rooms in Jeanmarie Hall were at full capacity for the main draw of the conference: individual presentations on student-athlete mental health, with specific topics ranging from social media to the psychological effects of concussions.

Among those presenting were Saint Michael’s College alumni, faculty, staff, and students. Mental health clinician Nicole Adach ‘13 spoke about athlete identity, which was also the subject of her thesis as a student of Saint Michael’s graduate psychology program. Current students from Hope Happens Here, a Saint Michael’s group dedicated to raising awareness and providing resources for student-athlete mental health issues, discussed their work as an organization. The event was brought to campus largely in part by Saint Michael’s College NCAA representative David Landers of the Psychology faculty, who delivered his own presentation on concussions Friday afternoon.

Each of the simultaneous three-hour presentations focused heavily on audience interaction. Attendees were able to discuss their own experiences as coaches, educators, and even parents with each of the topics at hand. On the table were conversations about online personas in the social media age, how concussions affect academics, and setting realistic expectations for athletic life and career after college. In particular, Adach spoke on identity crisis as something to be embraced and handled positively. “We should expect our athletes to be confused from time to time. But if we can frame it as an opportunity… then we’re in a good place,” she said.

The VPA conference expands on a semester of awareness events on campus surrounding student-athlete mental health, such as an NCAA keynote presentation from October.

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