Coaching the coaches: How Providence supports student athlete mental health

Key takeaways:

  • Student athletes may be at risk for mental health issues.

  • Providence has developed a program to "coach the coaches" on supporting teens.

  • There are resources available to help athletic trainers, coaches and parents support their student athletes.


To better support teen student-athletes who are at higher risk of mental health issues, the Providence sports medicine and behavioral health teams joined together to create a training program for athletic trainers and coaches. Our recent broadcast facilitated by Brette Borow with Dr. Jeri Turgesen, PsyD and Dr. Elisa Rudd, PsyD will outline the program and offer suggestions for:

  • How athletic directors can support the mental health of student athletes
  • Why student athletes may be at increased risk for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse
  • Resources to support teen athletes
  • Ways coaches can talk to teens about mental health
  • Why normalizing mental health struggles is important

Watch the video below:

Key takeaways:

  • In Oregon, Providence developed an athletic trainer program in partnership with the sports medicine team and athletic directors of local school districts.
  • This program was developed out of a recognition of the importance of teen mental health and as a way to provide resources to support teen athletes.
  • The training curriculum addresses topics such as emotional CPR, how to respond to a teen in crisis, depression, anxiety, substance use, mindfulness and coping skills.
  • The common age of onset of mental health issues is 14, and teen athletes are at an increased risk, so it is important to intervene early.
  • Athletic directors and coaches can identify at-risk teens by recognizing changes in behavior, and they can encourage teens to open up to them by creating a safe space for communication.
  • Normalizing challenging emotions and building trust is important when addressing teen mental health issues.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there are free mental health resources and tools at


Find a doctor

Our behavioral health experts offer virtual and in-person consultations to bring you convenient, confidential mental healthcare options. With Providence Express Care Virtual, you can access a full range of healthcare services. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.

Related resources

Christina Milian work2bewell mental health anti-stigma

Caring for your mental health during COVID-19

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Pain in the Nation Report from Trust for America’s Health

Providence Radio: Future of Health station

Share your #mentalhealth struggles and strategies with readers @providence.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Body & Mind Team is dedicated to providing medically-sound, data-backed insights and advice on how to reach and maintain your optimal health through a mixture of exercise, mindfulness, preventative care and healthy living in general.

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