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SSU athletics gets mental health grant

By: SSU NewsCenter
March 17, 2017

Sonoma State University’s Athletics Department has received a nearly $25,000 grant from the NCAA to create a program providing mental health support for injured athletes.

The Internet-based intervention program is being created by Julie Rudy, head athletic trainer for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at SSU, and Carrie Cheadle, a mental skills coach who has worked with the Seawolves Sports Medicine team for the past several years. 

SSU is the only Div. II school to receive the competitive grant award.

“Student-athletes are often healed from their injuries physically before they are healed mentally,” said Cheadle, author of “On Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance.” “The stress that comes with being injured can impact the well-being of the student-athlete as well as slow down the healing process. This program will provide injured student-athletes with the educational and emotional support they need to get through their injury with resilience to get back to their sport with confidence.”

The $24,900 grant allows Rudy and Cheadle to build on a pilot program already in place for injured student-athlete wellness. Through Cheadle’s expertise, ten 10-minute modules will be created this spring using the university’s online Moodle system. It will be piloted out of the Sports Medicine Center during scheduled rehabilitation times starting in the fall semester.

“An injured student-athlete cannot recover from an injury unless they are guided through an optimal return-to-play environment addressing both physical and mental aspects of rehabilitation, with the end goal being pre-injury status,” said Rudy.

SSU is one of five universities (out of 63 applicants) to receive part of the $100,000 total grant funding through the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program, which is designed to enhance college student-athletes’ psychosocial well-being and mental health. The others are Rowan University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Western Kentucky University, and the University of Southern California.

“To be able to implement an accessible, mental wellness program for our student-athletes here at Sonoma State University is a work of passion coming to fruition,” said Rudy, who has been working on this effort with Cheadle and others at the university for two years. “It has been very apparent to us that the student-athletes need increased mental health support. This is our starting point.”

This NCAA grant program, now in its fourth year, is aimed at funding projects that will bring tangible benefits to college athletes when used by individuals or by NCAA member schools’ athletics departments. In addition to SSU's project, this year's grant recipients will produce work that touches a wide range of areas, including mindfulness training, career development and promoting resiliency.