Michigan high school coaches train to spot, help athletes with mental health struggles

Be Nice program started 10 years ago

Michigan coaches training to spot mental health struggles in student athletes
Michigan coaches training to spot mental health struggles in student athletes

Mental health in athletes has been an issue the Michigan High School Athletic Association has been focusing on for years.

When the coronavirus pandemic started the mental health of athletes became more important than ever. The Be Nice program involves 20,000 Michigan High School coaches from various sports.

A girls golf team in Saline has already started tournament play, but once school starts the stress increases, which is true for any high school athlete.

When coach Debbie Williams-Hoak addresses her team, it’s more involved than just the mechanics of the game. She was recently introduced to the Be Nice program by watching a training video, taking a quiz, and then implementing what she learned.

The Be Nice program is part of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. Christy Buck founded Be Nice. The program began 10 years ago to address bullying and suicide. Since it was originally founded it has evolved.

Three years ago, the Michigan High School Athletic Association decided to focus on athlete mental health and partnered with the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. Now, every Michigan high school coach in the state is receiving mental health training through Be Nice. That’s 20,000 coaches.

The girls on the golf team said seeing high-profile athletes like Simone Biles and Michael Phelps prioritize their mental health helps empower them.


About the Authors:

Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.