Value of Time Served: $0
Event Type: Health & Safety
Sport: Ice Hockey
Date: November 15, 2022
Four and a half years ago, tragedy struck the family of Sue, Katie and Lauren when their son and brother, Kyle, took his life at the age of nineteen. In his memory, the family formed KyleCares, a non–profit organization that works to bring mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs into high school and collegiate communities across New England. To date, KyleCares has invested over $215k in grants to schools, or in money to support the work of their strategic partners. Their goal is to create a culture that is caring, non–judgmental, and encourages help–seeking behavior, without shame or hesitation. Recently, the organization has partnered with the Hockomock League, a Massachusetts–based athletic association, to take a unified approach to mental health advocacy. The league is hanging KyleCares–WeCare banners in gymnasiums throughout the twelve schools, and is holding a Mental Health Week, including pre–game speeches and a student leadership conference with a strong social–emotional theme. The Hockomock League is setting a powerful example of the importance of mental health awareness and creating a safe space for all students. Through their work with KyleCares, they are encouraging help–seeking behavior and ultimately, saving lives.
Hockomock League joining KyleCares in supporting student-athlete mental health:
NORTH ATTLEBORO, MA (November 15, 2022) – KyleCares, Inc. today announced a collaborative effort with the Hockomock League and its twelve athletic directors to support the emotional well-being of their student-athletes by prioritizing wellness and self-care as much as academic or athletic success, and encouraging help-seeking behavior for any student struggling with their mental health. The Hockomock is one of the first conferences in Massachusetts to take a proactive, league-wide approach from an athletic standpoint on the teen mental health crisis that continues to increase across the United States.
Athletic departments from the dozen Hockomock schools will participate in the “KyleCares-WeCare” awareness campaign by hanging banners in gymnasiums at every school supporting the belief that “Mental Health Matters” as much as physical health. In addition, a January 2023 Mental Health Week is being planned to raise awareness at sporting events across the league, and the league’s student-athlete leadership conference next spring will have a strong social-emotional focus as part of its agenda. Ryan Gordy, athletic director at Oliver Ames High School in Easton noted, “The Hockomock League values all aspects of the student-athlete experience, and as they navigate the high school sports experience, we want them to do so in a healthy way. There are several programs in place to work with athletes on their physical health, and now we want to bring awareness to mental health. We want to normalize that spending time working on mental health is appropriate and partnering with KyleCares does just that. The KyleCares organization is a leader in the field, and with the Hockomock League working together with KyleCares we are taking a proactive unified approach in advocating for mental health awareness for our schools, communities, and student athletes.”
Athletes are not immune or more resistant to anxiety or depression. The stress of competing at a high level in high school sports while balancing studies, part-time jobs, and personal relationships can often overwhelm young people, yet many will never admit they’re struggling with their mental health because they feel they must be the toughest physically and mentally among their peers.
A trusted, caring adult can be a huge influence for young people, and athletic departments and coaches are uniquely positioned to provide support and notice when an athlete is struggling emotionally or withdrawn. By developing a strong link between the athletic and school counselor resources, Hockomock schools are increasing the likelihood of getting help to those students who want and need assistance but hesitate to ask for it. Hockomock League high schools include Attleboro, Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, King Philip,Mansfield, Milford, North Attleboro, Oliver Ames, Sharon, Stoughton, and Taunton.