The Big Ten announced an initiative on Monday aimed at offering mental health resources for players, coaches and athletic department staff members at its member schools.
The step included the formation of the Mental Health and Wellness Cabinet, which includes representatives from the 14 schools in the conference, plus Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame, which are affiliate Big Ten members in men's and women's lacrosse and men's ice hockey, respectively.
The cabinet is made up of mental health professionals and university administrators, including Ohio State sport psychologists Chelsi Day and James Houle.
In a statement, Kevin Warren, who succeeded longtime conference commissioner Jim Delany in January, referenced the coronavirus pandemic as a much-needed time for the mental health push. Organized team activities in all sports are suspended through June 1.
“This is a complex and stressful time in our society and the mental health and wellness of our Big Ten family is a critical component of our focus,” Warren said. “The Cabinet will be instrumental for us both short and long term, as we pursue our goal of creating and maintaining the most comprehensive mental health and wellness platform in college athletics.”
As part of the effort, the conference will provide athletes and other people within the schools’ athletic departments with free access to Calm, a popular meditation app that was named Apple’s 2017 App of the Year.
Ohio State football coach Ryan Day, who has been an advocate for mental health awareness during his tenure with the Buckeyes, backed the effort, calling it “incredibly important” in a statement released by the Big Ten.
Last year, Day and his wife, Christina, launched the Christina and Ryan Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Wellness through Nationwide Children's Hospital.
“It's just like any other sickness,” Day said last June, following the fund’s creation. “If somebody has cancer or somebody gets ill, they need treatment. It's the same thing with mental health.”
During the pandemic, Day has also posted videos on his Twitter account that offer suggestions for how people can stay mentally healthy while socially isolating, part of the ongoing effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.