Durham College puts mental health in the game

January, 25 2024

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Durham College

Mental health and well-being looks different for everyone, but for athletes, there is a unique feeling of pressure, expectations and the desire to win.

To help address this pressure and encourage student-athletes to prioritize their mental health, Durham College’s (DC) women’s volleyball team is partnering with HONE Athletics through a unique digital mental health platform that helps increase team communication and well-being through weekly check-ins.

According to Scott Dennis, Director, Athletics and Recreation, the DC women’s volleyball team has benefited tremendously from using HONE over the past year and expects to continue to see positive results this season.

The app works by prompting players to conveniently and anonymously answer survey questions based on a rating scale from their cell phone. The results are instantly delivered to the coaches, better equipping them with a snapshot of how their players are feeling.

“After using HONE, I’m more mindful of my team and the needs they may require,” says Tony Clarke, Head Coach, DC women’s volleyball team. “HONE provides helpful tips and strategies that could help with the team and players. It makes me look beyond coaching and try to understand what the athletes are going through.”

For Aislinn Pedersen, a DC Photography student and member of the women’s volleyball team, prioritizing her mental health is important as it not only affects her performance on the court but also her grades.

“My favourite thing about the HONE app is that it helps my team and me think about our own feelings and how it may be affecting our everyday life. This initiative has improved my team’s communication, which has helped us do more for each other on and off the court,” said Pedersen. “I love my team and I don’t know where I would be without them, I have had mental health struggles for years, but this team has helped me become a stronger person and I can’t thank them enough.”

HONE Athletics was created by Jessica Renney and Paula McQuaid, two sport psychotherapists who realized they needed a way to get ahead of the issues that athletes commonly face.

“When we make athlete mental health a priority; when we have a proper understanding of how to best support athletes; and when we pay careful attention to the environments in which they exist, we will see athletes thrive,” said McQuaid. “The women’s volleyball teams’ willingness to participate in HONE every week, coupled with the care and courage from their head coach, Tony Clarke, makes our partnership with DC a very special one.”

Learn more about the mental health and well-being services and resources available on campus, online.

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