Mental health in children is at the forefront of the national health conversation. Per the latest data via the National Survey of Children’s Health, depression, anxiety, and behavioral or conduct problems remain prevalent among children and adolescents across the United States. This fall, the Colorado High School Activities Association is making a bold move to help improve the mental health of student-athletes across the state by requiring all coaches to take a course on mental health.
“CHSAA’s vision is to deconstruct the stereotypes around mental health and help start the conversations that need to happen around our kids. The mental and physical well-being of our student participants is our priority.”
– CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green
Supporting Students’ Mental Wellbeing
It’s the first time across Colorado high school athletics that mental health training is elevated to the same level as the CPR and first aid training typically required of coaches. For Parallel Path’s Chief Client Officer Hardy Kalisher, who has spent the past 15 years as Boulder High School’s Head Coach for Boy’s Soccer, it’s also not a moment too soon.
Coaches are often the first line of defense in recognizing and acting on potential mental health concerns among their athletes. “As a high school athlete,” Kalisher explains, “you’ll probably be spending more time with your coach than your teachers or even your parents.” With that comes the responsibility for coaches to be able to identify potential concerns around depression and anxiety, recognize warning signs of suicide, and be fluent in the resources available to help.
The Power of Positive Coaching
And Kalisher knows his stuff. He’s been named League Coach of the Year on four separate occasions, named Coach of the Year three times by the Daily Camera, and Coach of the Year by the Colorado Youth Soccer Association, National Coach of the Year, and Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal National Coach of the Year. He’s also a committed coach of coaches, helping bring about a paradigm shift around positive coaching, “one coach, one parent, one child at a time,” helping coaches “see their roles not only as tacticians and technicians, but as positive influences in the growth of their athletes.”
And the conversation around mental health continues in Kalisher’s leadership position at Parallel Path, supporting clients across the Health, Wellness, and Lifestyle industries. “At Parallel Path, we have several clients for whom mental health is a significant priority for their organization. I’m as conscious of that for our clients as I am in the work I do in the community as a coach,” he explains. “As a leadership team at Parallel Path, we are drawn to organizations who are mission-driven and helping transform the narrative around mental health.”