Mental Health EAP

Do you have a Mental Health EAP? Do you have a athletic injury EAP?

Dr. Hector Lopez of SMASA shares some of the tips for building a mental health EAP for Athletic Trainers

Complete the course work to earn Category A CEUs sponsored by Methodist Healthcare Sports Medicine of San Antonio –

Have you planned what to do in the event of a suicide threat or attempt?

The secondary setting is harder because we are dealing with minors

A good understanding of mental health

Video from YouTube – For NCAA student Athletes’ Mental health: a more educated approach

NCAA Sports Science Institute mental health awareness

According to the WHO it is a state of wellbeing in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities.

Mental illness refers to diagnosable mental disorders and health conditions

There is a stigma that it is a weakness

Myths about Mental health:

  • Children do not get mental health issues – 75% begin before age 24
  • Personality weakness or character flaws cause them
  • I can not do anything for a person with mental health problems


  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Major depression
  • PTSD
  • Adjustment disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Co-existing learning disabilities
  • ADHD
  • Autism spectrum
  • Chronic Medical illness
  • Bullying
  • Hazing
  • Relationship Abuse
  • Sexual Assault
  • Gender Dysphoria
  • Unexpected Pregnancy
  • Gambling
  • Undiagnosed medical issue
  • Stressors affecting athletes
  • Team culture
  • Pressure to perform
  • Balancing demands

Identifiers for a mental health EAP

ID based on performance

Injury causes isolation or forced retirement

Burnout due to early specialization

Poor performance

“I can’t show weakness”

Dealing with injured athletes:


What does the injury mean to the athlete?

What is your team and AT Clinic culture?

Educate about the diagnosis

Correct any misinformation

Provide a road map for recovery

“Dr. google is a big problem in my world”

An emotional response to an injury is normal




Lack of motivation



Changes in appetite

Sleep disturbance


Response to injury

Stress can lead to increased injury, muscle tension, poor concentration, and performance

Can trigger depression

Problematic emotional responses

Persistent symptoms

Worsening symptoms

Excessive symptoms

Summary of possible symptoms

Barriers to care:


Poor understanding

Difficulty willing to express

Lack of time



Worried about it affecting play

Not accessible


  • Increased awareness
  • Social support
  • Encouragement from others
  • Accessibility
  • A positive relationship with staff
  • Confidentiality
  • Time
  • Integration into athlete life
  • Positive past experiences
  • Ease of expressing emotion

Treating injured Athletes

  • Rapport is key
  • Supportive culture
  • Respect privacy
  • Acknowledge and understand their identity may be tied to athletics
  • May be the first injury for them
  • Be on alert for red flags

Mental Health EAP TIPS

Interview the athletes away from other athletes or with another staff member if possible

Ask open-ended questions

If the concern is self-harm be blunt

Actively listen and allow them to talk without interruption



Any talk of self-harm or suicide

Talking about hopelessness and empty

Making a plan for killing themselves

Talking about great guilt or shame.

Suicide hotline

5 steps graphic

Identifty an Emergency

  • maintain safety for yourself and others
  • Call for help
  • Talk in a quiet place where you can defuse the situation
  • Do not leave the student alone but do not place yourself in danger
  • Develop policy and procedure and practice them


Your responsibility is to recognize and refer


  • PPE
    • Are you stressed
    • Do you want to weigh more or less
  • Open-ended questions – 
    • are you sad, do you feel hopeless, do you feel safe
  • What are the protocols at your institution
    • Emergency scenarios
    • Keep names and numbers accessible
    • What about after hours?
    • National suicide prevention hotline
      • 800-273-TALK
      • Text – “help” to 741741

Resources on NCAA website

NATA has a list of resources as well

Sports Science Institute through NCAA

What your school says “we don’t talk about that?”

Start the conversation – they may not know

Use the models that are published

If you are going to bring a problem forward, bring a solution.

Lean heavily onto your team physician.

Get someone’s copy to help you build yours.

Do not be afraid to act…call 911 if need be.

Watch the Facebook live

Jeremy Jackson

Dr. Hector Lopez –

Shawn Ready@ShawnReady_ATC

Jeremy Jackson@MrJeremyJackson

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