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Under the Helmet

An intervention promoting mental health education in high school communities

This innovative program strives to change the culture of stigma surrounding mental health by building on the energy, motivation, connectedness, and sense of purpose that high school athletics generate among students and their mentors, families, and communities. Through an educational intervention targeted toward student-athletes, athletic staff, and parents, Under the Helmet aims to elevate the importance of “mental fitness” among groups that are already skilled in cultivating physical fitness, providing constructive strategies and resources for students and their peers to prevent negative behaviors and mental health problems.

In Under the Helmet programs, well-known athletes open up conversations in high schools by sharing personal stories of overcoming challenges using positive mental health and resilience, while mental health professionals monitor the dialogue and field questions from the audience. The program emphasizes the power of peer support and bystander intervention in everything from preventing bullying behaviors to identifying serious warning signs of depression, substance abuse, or suicidal intentions. By involving students, coaches, parents, and other staff, the program helps each school’s community begin to build their own strategies for maintaining mental fitness.

Under the Helmet launched in the fall of 2012 in 23 schools identified by the Michigan Department of Education. The ultimate goal is to expand the program into a comprehensive campaign in schools across the country. Funding for this program has been provided by Mental Illness Research Association (MIRA).

For more information about how to get involved in this initiative, please contact us .