Student-athletes are busy people. Attending practices and games, going to school and keeping up a social life is a lot for one person. And according to two NCAA student-athlete well-being studies, mental health issues remain on minds of student-athletes.
Through Post University’s Counseling Center, several resources are available to meet the needs of the student-athletes to help them remain healthy and well.
One of the newest resources is the establishment a full-time Athletic and Wellness Counselor position at the University. Athletic counseling synthesizes counseling, psychology, and sports science to attend to the unique athletic, social, and academic challenges of the college athlete.
In August, Brittany Henderson, a graduate of Springfield College, with a Master of Education in psychology with a concentration in athletic counseling, joined the University at the Athletic and Wellness Counselor. She is both a Connecticut Licensed Professional Counselor and a Massachusetts Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Before joining Post, Henderson was the assistant director of Counseling Services at Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts. She has been a behavioral health provider for adults, children, and families working in a school-based health center and community mental health agencies. As an undergraduate student at Loyola University, she was the goalie on the women’s NCAA Division I soccer team.
Also joining the Counseling Center as an intern this year is Gabrielle Belenchia, a Springfield College graduate student, who is pursuing her Master of Education in Counseling. For the past two years, Belenchia has been an athletic counselor at Springfield College, a member of the NCAA-Division III.
“It is a benefit to have individuals like Brittany and Gabby at Post. As former college athletes, they have unique lens on the student-athlete experience, explained Lisa Antel, director of the Counseling Center.
Henderson and Belenchia are part of the University’s Counseling Center. They will work closely with Lisa Antel as well as with Assistant Director Aubry Fappiano, Counselors George Hayes, and Nakia Miller. This entire team are licensed clinical social workers and work with Main Campus students.
During the past five years, Antel has worked closely with Karin Mann and Ronnie Palmer in the University’s Athletic Department to intentionally provide more athletic-focused mental health services to the University’s 22 NCAA Division II teams. Over 60 percent of the students who come to the University’s Counseling Center are student-athletes.
According to Karin Mann, the senior associate director of athletics, student athletes are a unique population on campus, and they face very unique challenges. “As a department, we are very fortunate that Lisa Antel recognized the need to provide a different type of support to them. We can’t thank her enough for what she has done to establish this specific counseling role,” said Mann.
“Between the team in Counseling Center and the athletics department, we have a group of people able to holistically support student-athletes to succeed academically, athletically as well as help them grow personally and develop so that they can thrive during their time at Post and after they leave as well,” Antel said,” I’m proud of how we have grown and continue to help all students.”
In addition to the Counseling team, the University offers other resources for students, including Student Online Assistance Resource (SOAR), which, in addition to mental health counseling, offers financial and legal support and personal convenience services to students and their families.
This platform offers students – and all members of their families at home – up to three confidential counseling sessions per year with licensed, professional counselors to help with personal, emotional and psychological issues. SOAR is a complement to [email protected], another platform that focuses on student wellness, academic counseling and goal setting.