COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)-- UCCS is prioritizing the well-being of their student-athletes. This year, all 350 student-athletes will be participating in a pilot program centered around mental health.
UCCS is one of just five NCAA institutions to receive an NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant.
It's called the Mountain Lion Strong Program and focuses on five pillars: identity, healthy relationships, goal setting, time management, healthy eating, and wellness for body and mind.
"We know that the age of our college students 18-25, we’ve had worsening rates of mental health challenges, even before covid and the pandemic really worsened a lot of those challenges with uncertainty and isolation, and so we want to build a foundation where they have a supportive culture," said Dr. Jess Kirby, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at UCCS.
The Mountain Lion Strong program will incorporate peer wellness, expanded mental health screenings, and suicide prevention training.
"Very important, especially with athletes we tend to be a little bit more uncomfortable I think about sharing our mental health issues, and we kind of play that tough side. We’re athletes, we don’t have problems outside of sports, but I think just opening it up and creating a safe space for students to talk about that is really important," said Audrey Bloomquist, a senior on the track and field team.
After the program is developed this year, a curriculum handbook will be created and handed out to each student-athlete at UCCS.