May 7, 2020

Ohio State And Its Commitment to Mental Health


🖱 The People: Jamey Houle | Gene Smith Podcast: Mental Health | Sports Psychology Home Page

Dr. Jamey Houle, along with three other full-time members of the Department of Athletics’ sports psychology staff along with head football coach Ryan Day and men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann, held a conference call with local media on Wednesday, May 6 to discuss what Ohio State has done to assist its student-athletes and coaches in the area of mental health and wellness.

Below is a sample of the stories that appeared in Thursday’s edition of the Columbus Dispatch and on

Chris Holtmann Prioritizes Players’ Mental and Physical Health

by Adam Jardy

It wasn’t just an overnight evolution in thinking that led Chris Holtmann to say what he said.

Through the last five years of his coaching career, the Ohio State men’s basketball coach said he’s had more players come through his office in search of mental-health help than in his first 15 years combined. It was firsthand evidence of a changing of the times, and it had informed Holtmann’s perspective when D.J. Carton left the program to address his own mental-health issues last January.

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Ohio State puts focus on athletes’ mental health

by Joey Kaufman

When the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the remainder of Ohio State’s sports seasons earlier this spring, it left athletes distressed.

Dr. Jamey Houle, one of four full-time mental-health professionals working within the university’s athletic department, likened it to feelings of grief.

“Especially in the beginning, it really was a grief process,” said Houle, who serves as the department’s lead sport psychologist. “It was a loss. I can’t tell you how many seniors had to go through this experience of four years of building, and winning championships, and trying to win a championship their senior year, then having that be gone in a day, in the middle of a practice even.”

Some seniors will return next year after the NCAA extended an additional season of eligibility to those who participate in spring sports. Not all of them, though, will be back, the pandemic ending their college careers.

The abrupt conclusion to seasons, along with the continued suspension of team activities, has left athletes across all 36 varsity sports at Ohio State to handle various mental-health challenges.

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Athletes vulnerable to being caught up in social media’s dark side

by Rob Oller

Ryan Day and Chris Holtmann are big believers in giving their players second chances, which is why the Ohio State football and men’s basketball coaches consider social media the chief culprit in creating mental-health issues among college athletes.

Social media does not excel at extending grace and forgiveness, whether the topic is sports, politics or putting ketchup on hot dogs.

College athletes, particularly those who play football and basketball, are not immune from such “Knives Out” activity. Twitter is an attack dog. Fan site message boards serve as judge, jury and executioner. Instagram builds the user’s brand, which goes bust for something as basic as dropping a pass or missing a dunk.

Holtmann ties the increase in athletes’ mental-health issues directly to the web’s downside, as he explained on Wednesday during a conference call with Day and members of Ohio State’s sports psychology staff.

“Whether it is anxiety, depression or a variety of things, for me it’s the influence of social media,” said Holtmann, adding that more players have visited his office for emotional support in the past five years than in the previous 15.

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Ohio State sports psychologists, athletic counselors provide key mental health resources for student-athletes

by Dan Hope

Mental health has become an increasingly regular topic of conversation around the Ohio State athletic department in recent years, with football coach Ryan Day and men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann – among others – speaking up about the importance of mental wellness while several Buckeye student-athletes have also talked publicly about their own battles with mental health issues.

Last August, Ohio State made one of its biggest commitments yet to providing the best possible mental health care for its student-athletes.

Going into the 2019-20 academic year, Ohio State announced that it was expanding its sport psychology staff, hiring three new employees – sport psychologist Chelsi Day (no relation to Ryan) and athletic counselors Charron Sumler and Candice Williams – to join a department led by former Ohio State gymnast Jamey Houle, who has been on staff for four years and is now the athletic department’s lead sport psychologist.

At the time, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said, there wasn’t any other university committing the same level of mental health resources to its student-athletes that OSU could use as a model. But Smith and the athletic department are always looking for new ways to enhance the student-athlete experience at Ohio State, and as mental health became a bigger and bigger area of focus around college athletics, he decided OSU needed to be able to do more for that aspect of its athletes’ lives.

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Ohio State’s sports psychology department has taken strides in student-athlete engagement

by Keaton Maisano

Although the Big Ten just announced the creation of its Mental Health and Wellness Cabinet, Ohio State’s sport psychology department has been working to reach student-athletes at the university since its department doubled in August.

The sport psychology department has used its increased staff to expand its services to more student-athletes. Jamey Houle, Ohio State lead sport psychologist, leads a group that he said is working to increase its visibility in order to reach and help as many student-athletes as possible.

“It’s really evolved for us to become highly integrated into the holistic treatment of the athletes, and we’ve been really happy with that as we’ve evolved throughout the year,” Houle said.

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Ohio State coaches Ryan Day and Chris Holtmann reflect on mental health strains for student-athletes

by Jack Emerson

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, the conversation surrounding mental health continues to carry a stigma — even among some of the most high-profile sports programs at Ohio State.

Ohio State’s sport psychology department, which was expanded in August, provides student-athletes with access to consultation and mental wellness training. With support from key athletics figures like Ohio State football coach Ryan Day and men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann, the stigma surrounding mental health continues to be challenged.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure that people understand that part of being healthy is being mentally healthy,” Day said. “I’m proud to say that I think Ohio State is at the forefront of this nationally.”

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