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(Columbus) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced the availability of state training resources aimed at giving Ohio school athletics coaches the tools they need to help student athletes struggling with their mental health. The recently passed biennial budget — House Bill 33 — includes a provision that requires all coaches to complete the training before they can apply for or renew their pupil activity program permits.
“Coaches know how to motivate young people and lead them to success on the field, but may not be aware of how to help student-athletes with the challenges they may be facing off the field,” said Governor DeWine. “The goal is to give coaches the tools they need to help identify student athletes who may be struggling and connect them with the help they need.”
The new law requires the Ohio Department of Education to work with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to provide options of approved trainings that help coaches satisfy requirements needed to obtain pupil activity permits, which are required for licensed educators and non-licensed school employees who direct, supervise, or coach a student activity program that involves athletics, routine or regular physical activity, or activities with health and safety considerations. An individual must complete the training each time the individual applies for or renews a pupil activity program permit and present evidence of each successful completion to the State Board of Education.
“This law does not intend to make coaches act as therapists or other mental health professionals,” said Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss. “The training helps them recognize signs of potential mental health issues and how to take action to connect students and their families with the right people in their communities who can help.”
Students face a new set of challenges, as described by the United States Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy in his Protecting Youth Mental Health advisory. In the decade leading up to the pandemic, feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness—as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors—increased nearly 40 percent among young people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.
“Coaches have a unique view of students’ lives as they face challenges and experience successes alongside their peers outside of the school day,” said Dr. Chris Woolard, interim superintendent of public instruction. “Mental health training can help coaches recognize and respond to students’ needs to ensure they are supported in all of their environments, including athletics spaces.”
Athletic coaches can access the approved trainings through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services webpage. Some of the approved trainings are available at no cost. Individuals can access more information about the requirement on the Department’s coaching permits webpage.