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How the Big Ten Is Putting Mental Health First

In this episode of Game Changers, we learn from Adam Neuman, the chief of staff, strategy and operations for the Big Ten Conference, the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United State. Along with discussing what it means to be visibly Jewish in a decidedly un-Jewish profession, Adam talks about why college sports are about a lot more than winning, how the Big Ten is embracing leadership and social responsibility, and why the Conference has set up a Mental Health and Wellness Cabinet to bring wider support and awareness of mental health issues to student-athletes.

Unpacked’s Mental Health Awareness Month videos are sponsored by Toby and Michael Kumin.

  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Further Learning
  1. Adam shares a powerful story about Coach Jim Valvano whose father always had his bags packed so he could “be there” when his son won a national championship. Adam says that hopefully everybody has somebody in their life that has their bags packed for you (believes in you) and that you should always have your bags packed for other people. Do you have someone in your life who believes in you? How does that impact your life and how can believing in others help them?
  2. In the Big 10 Conference, the Bandana Project, a suicide prevention program, has had a tremendous impact on college students as it attempts to tear apart stigmas. What practical ideas do you have to help raise awareness about mental health issues and to support the people around you in regards to their mental health in a non-intrusive way?
  3. When speaking about mental health, Adam states that “problems in the mind are a lot more difficult than problems in the physical body”. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  4. Psychologist Adam Grant defines resilience as “the strength and speed of our response to adversity”. Watch this video featuring Adam Grant and delineate three lessons you can apply to your own life from the video.

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