How do you pronounce “SAMHI”? It is pronounced like “Sam-ee”.

What does the logo mean? The logo represents what we call the “Huddle Framework”. It is the idea that mental health and creating healthy environments is the responsibility of many key stakeholders including student-athletes (purple piece), coaches and integrated support team, governing bodies in sport and the institution/representatives, and families/friends. .

Where does SAMHI operate? We are officially headquartered and based in Toronto, ON Canada. However, the initiative has a national reach.

When was SAMHI founded and by whom? Samantha DeLenardo and Krista Van Slingerland officially founded the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative on March 7, 2014.

Why did you start this initiative? The Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative was started because student-athletes are a unique population in need of supportive environments that promote good mental health and encourage them to seek help when they need it. There is no unifying voice for this group in Canada.

How do you fund your activities? As a charitable organization, we currently fund activities and day-to-day operations through:

  • Mental Health Huddles honorarium fee
  • Donations/Fundraising
  • Grants

What is a Mental Health Huddle? Mental Health Huddles are education sessions offered to post-secondary institutions. Each session is tailored to the needs of the school and SAMHI representatives work with the counselling department/mental health services on campus to provide coaches, student-athletes and support staff with a more fulsome understanding of mental health and illness in sport, the challenges of stigma, their roles, and the critical details around accessing services on campus and in the community.

How can I support the initiative? There are a number of ways we can work together to improve mental health and wellbeing for student-athletes in Canada. Find out how you can help today!

In Canada, there are approximately 32 000 university and college-level student-athletes. Below is a list of factors that play a role in understanding why we need to focus on student-athletes as a unique population:
  • The culture of competitive sport coupled with pressure and stress on the body/mind to perform daily in school and in sport;
  • Demands on time make it difficult to maintain a balanced lifestyle, as well as making it difficult to develop sources of social and emotional support outside of team/sport environment;
  • Strong identification with athletic role and identity;
  • Dangers of overemphasizing mental toughness and performance over mental wellness;
  • Certain coaching styles that create an unhealthy “workplace” for student-athletes;
  • The increasing prevalence of mental health issues across Canadian university campuses;
  • The stigma associated with reduced mental health and help-seeking;
  • The disconnect between athletic departments and other relevant campus student services and departments.
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