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Stay in the Game: Sports addressing mental wellness

September 14, 2018

This week, the United States recognizes National Suicide prevention week – a time to raise awareness and encourage mental health assistance, while reducing the stigma surrounding the topic. Coming off a successful Beyond Sport United, we are excited to announce an innovative new partnership with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) to leverage the power of sport to promote mental wellness. This initiative follows an award-winning ‘Not a Red Card’ campaign that Beyond Sport’s consultancy arm, thinkBeyond, has been running with Legal & General in the UK focusing on using sport to raise awareness about mental health in the workplace.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Suicide recently reporting that US suicide rates have increased sharply between 1999 and 2016 across age, gender, race and ethnicity, the need to address mental wellness and suicide prevention is pressing now more than ever.

Beyond Sport and the Action Alliance will bring together the US sporting industry with suicide prevention experts to encourage collaboration, the sharing of best practices for suicide prevention and mental health promotion, and a coordinated effort to leverage the positive cultural influence of sport to promote mental wellness and support for those who are struggling. Sports organizations will be able to further strengthen and develop their own mental health initiatives; learn about additional potential partners, issues and solutions; connect with suicide prevention exports; and support national efforts drive innovation in mental wellness and suicide prevention.

To inform this effort, the Action Alliance hosted a table at this week’s 10Rountables event at Beyond Sport United, including leaders from NBA, MLB, Atlantic57 and mental health related sports organizations. “The energy and commitment of the participants during the discussion made it clear that the sports world is already demonstrating leadership on this topic and yet at the same time there is significant potential to do more and bring it to scale within the sports world,” said Colleen Carr MPH, Director of the Action Alliance.

Addressing the root of suicidal behavior and the promotion of mental wellness requires innovative and groundbreaking collaborations. Working together, we can help change the national conversation about mental wellness and suicide prevention from one of death and despair to one of hope, support and healing.

The good news is that people, athletes included, are starting to talk about it. They are talking about mental health challenges; they are talking about their struggles (which sometimes included suicidal behavior) and life stressors. With its influence and reach, sport has the ability to address many of these issues in communities by sharing a healthy message about prevention and healing around mental health and suicide prevention.

In early 2019, Beyond Sport and the Action Alliance will convene leaders in Washington, DC for a special invite only event, ors to advance efforts to eradicate the mental health issues facing the country. And going a step further, together we will initiate a national member network of key stakeholders that will continue to collaborate on innovative approaches to address the issue through sport

If you are interested in attending the event, please email [email protected] with your contact details and organization's information.

For partnership inquiries, please email Jake Davis at [email protected].

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