Over 150 people representing NCAA member institutions, senior administrators, health professionals and student/athletes will converge on Cleveland on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 to participate in the MAC NCAA Joint Summit on Mental Health. The event is a first-of-its-kind evaluation of mental health issues affecting student/athletes. The MAC and the NCAA Sports Sciences Institute will act as co-hosts.
The Joint Summit has its genesis in an initiative conceived by the MAC over three years ago in which MAC staff, faculty representatives from member institutions and student-athletes formed a task force to establish best practices and minimum standards of care. Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, MAC Commissioner, summed it up this way: "The idea was to bring together compliance directors, trainers, sports psychologists and student-athletes to conduct an evaluation of how we were treating mental health issues and promote more discussion." The MAC task force took over eight months to complete its work.The NCAA took note and asked the MAC to help the national body bring people together and generate more discussion.
The message, according to Steinbrecher, is that Its time to take #MACtion across many spectrums to establish standards.
"Mental health issues should be treated the same as physical health issues without any stigma attached," Steinbrecher said. "For student-athletes to be their best, they need to be in 'tip-top shape' mentally. They should be able to seek assistance from available resources and mental health professionals in the same manner that they would seek assistance for a physical health issue."
The summit will encourage athletic programs to evaluate how to best make mental health resources available to student/ athletes by making an inventory of what has been put in place and what else may be needed. Steinbrecher also noted that athletic directors have been "very positive" in their response to the Joint Summit.
Among the presenters will be NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline and Dr. Francoise Adan of University Hospitals. Participation in the event will be by invitation only. It is open to all MAC members and the media.