The world of collegiate athletics is a cutthroat business more often than not, and young men and women are often left to fend for themselves when it comes to their own mental health.
West Virginia is taking the next step in providing quality mental health care for its student-athletes by working to provide professionals to assist where needed in the athletic department.
WVU athletics director Shane Lyons announced, in collaboration with Carruth Center for Psychological and Psychiatric Services director T. Anne Hawkins, the return of Dr. Adrian Ferrera as the director of clinical and sports psychology and the addition of Dr. Sofía España Pérez as the clinical and sports behavioral health specialist for the athletic department.
“We are committed to our student-athletes here at WVU, especially in the areas of health, both physical and mental,” Lyons said in the press release. “We are happy to welcome Dr. Adrian Ferrera, and Dr. Sofía España Pérez back to WVU. They bring excellent credentials, years of experience and are outstanding additions to our staff. We look forward to the impact they have with our student-athletes.”
Ferrera, España Pérez and a graduate assistant in the unit will provide counseling and performance enhancement services for student-athletes.
Among those services includes short-term individual counseling, group counseling crisis intervention services, psychoeducational workshops, risk assessment and reduction intervention for student-athletes and will instruct and educate student-athletes on health, resilience and wellness.
Serving as the director of counseling and sports psychology at Auburn University after earning a Master’s and Doctorate from WVU in 2014, he is a certified mental health performance consultant through the Association for Applied Sports Psychology.
España Pérez has served as a practicum trainee at WVU Carruth Center for the past two years, completing her own Masters’ and Doctorate degrees. In addition to her work with the Carruth Center, she’s also served as a sports psychology consultant for the WVU tennis program and was a performance psychology consultant for WVU law students.
In the wake of U.S. Olympian Simone Biles opening up about her own mental health struggles while competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, other athletes have come forward about their own struggles in dealing with their mental health while competing.
WVU adding a sports psychology unit to supplement its athletes should only help to increase mental health awareness among athletes, especially student-athletes.