Investing in whole-individual wellness

Charlie and Debbie Morrison give to support all aspects of student-athlete well-being.

Pressure. When asked what are some of the unique challenges faced by K-State student athletes, Dr. Anne Weese, director of sport psychology at K-State Athletics, said it all comes down to one word — pressure.

“The expectations these athletes face in all areas of their lives can be overwhelming at times,” Weese said. “They are expected to be performing at peak levels in their sport, in the classroom and in their decision-making, at all times. Most young adults can go to school and/or their jobs and be done for the day. Athletes are constantly monitored with very high expectations, day in and day out. Mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, substance use, eating disorders and suicide are higher than ever for student athletes.”

A recent gift from Charlie and Debbie Morrison will enable Weese and K-State Athletics to better address the pressure student-athletes experience. The Morrisons’ investment will help create space and programming for mental health and wellness services, enable more staff to be hired and provide funds for suicide prevention training, bystander training, research, mental health treatment and a biofeedback/performance lab.

Student athletes will benefit in a variety of ways from these services. “Mentally, student athletes will have direct access to more licensed mental health providers for individual clinical treatment for issues including depression, anxiety, transition issues, etc.,” Weese said. “Physically, through the performance lab, athletes can learn how to manage the physiological aspects of stress and pressure, allowing them to tolerate and manage demanding situations and to increase their ability to self-regulate during stressful times.”

The awareness training provided will empower coaches, staff and athletes to better identify mental health issues and feel more capable in helping those in need. Student athletes will also gain the opportunity to participate in research. “Many athletes don’t get the opportunities to engage in training they need to feel competitive applying for graduate programs,” Weese said. “It is my hope that this gift will allow for flexible options for practical experience in research and training, preparing them more fully for future educational opportunities.”

With this investment, the Morrisons have put the focus on the needs of student athletes as complete human beings. “There is no limit to the impact this gift can have on our athletes, both during their time with us and in their lives after they begin the next journey of their lives,” Weese said. “This gift allows us to not only more completely meet the current mental health needs of our athletes, but to also focus on prevention and training efforts and holistic wellness skills. This gift will improve all aspects of the whole individual, from mental health, relational health, sport performance, to academic performance and beyond. Our entire department will benefit from this gift in added awareness of mental health concerns and how to help athletes in need. The passion the Morrisons have for the personal development of student-athletes is inspiring and encouraging for the future of our athletes.”

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