anastasia’s story, Glynndon’s story, Krista’s story.
Stories are at the heart of The Huddle, a blog
launched in 2014 as part of the Student Athlete
Mental Health Initiative, or SAMHI, a student-led project that offers mental-health planning
materials and programming for athletes and
coaches. The blog is a place for sharing personal
experiences about balancing – or failing to
balance – mental health and the particular
demands placed on student athletes: training
25 to 30 hours a week plus games on weekends
and evenings, on top of the usual pressures of
school and life.
The expectation that student athletes
possess a particular kind of “mental toughness”
can also be a trap. That was the message behind
a powerful post by Krista Van Slingerland, co-founder of SAMHI and a master’s student in
human kinetics at University of Ottawa. A guard
for the Gee-Gees varsity basketball team, she
Student-led project addresses issue of
mental health in varsity sport
L’Université Laval carboneutre
Listening to the wisdom of bees
Academics Without Borders finds a home
International students connect through food
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recounts how, as her depression spiraled into
disordered eating and self-harm, she continued
to push herself to perform on the court.
In addition to the blog, programming includes
the Mental Health Matchup – events that range
from guest speakers to pub nights facilitated
by SAMHI-trained student athlete volunteers.
SAMHI’s other co-founder Samantha DeLenardo,
who earned her master’s degree at the University
of Ottawa while lacing up as a forward for the
Gee-Gees varsity hockey team, says she developed
the framework for SAMHI in tandem with her
thesis on strategic communications, mental health
and varsity football players. “SAMHI was created
because there is no national voice for student
athletes on this issue,” she says.
– natalie samson
Initiative supports students struggling to stay healthy as they balance the demands of sports and school
Krista Van Slingerland, seen here playing basketball
for the U of Ottawa Gee-Gees, helped create the
mental health initiative for varsity athletes.