USC Athletics awarded $25,000 grant

The NCAA Innovations in Research Grant and Practice Grant Program awarded USC Athletics a $25,000 grant on Wednesday. The funding will be used toward the development and evaluation of a mindfulness training program aimed at improving the mental health of the vibrant student-athlete population at USC.

The Trojans are one of five research teams in the country who received a grant from the NCAA this year. The grants are funded through a program that supports projects aimed at improving the mental health of college athletes.

The proposal was selected from a group of 63 projects by a panel of athletics administrators, mental health practitioners, student-athletes and scholars from all three divisions of the NCAA.  Overall, a total of $100,000 was awarded this year.

The program is in its fourth year, helping to support work that tackles issues of career development and mental health in student-athletes. The USC team will head to the 2018 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis in January to present their findings, along with the other winning teams from Rowan University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Western Kentucky University
and Sonoma State University.

The Trojans’ grant proposal was written by Dr. Robin Scholefield and Dr. Dylan Firsick, two psychologists at the Engemann Student Health Center. The proposal cited the fact that many student-athletes are reporting a rise in the “severity and number of mental health symptoms.”

These symptoms include anxiety over demands on their time and performance, along with increased risk factors for both psychological and academic struggles.

Now that it is funded, the study will use a five-session mindfulness training program to attempt to reduce the anxiety and increase the well-being of student-athletes. If successful, this program will then be implemented in all NCAA sports programs.