THE ZONE: Addressing The Wellness Problems in Athletics
Mental health is an issue in college athletics with limited resolutions. Universities do not have enough wellness staff members for their student-athletes. Along with this, the majority of athletes aren’t seeking help when they are faced with mental health issues. Daniel Eisenberg, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, found that only a tenth of college athletes experiencing mental health conditions actually report it, which is 20% less than the average college student. This is problematic on multiple fronts because students are not getting the help they need, and colleges are unaware of what their students are going through.
In the coming years, universities will be more incentivized to come up with a solution to these problems. Incoming collegiate athletes have seen professional athletes speak out about their mental health issues. Universities that can prove that they can supports their athletes both physically and mentally will be elevated in the eyes of recruits as well as their parents. Those who choose to neglect mental health will not be viewed favorably by athletes and the media. Athletic programs are a major source of revenue at universities and fewer athletes and winning means a less profitable athletic program. It would behoove colleges to find a solution to their mental health issues.
The Zone App gives universities a way to utilize smartphones and similar technology as a means to collect data and be better informed on the mental state of those athletes. If there is one thing that athletes are guaranteed to have at all times it is their mobile device. For most students, their phone is the first thing they check when they wake up and the last thing they check when they go to sleep. The Zone gives college teams real-time data in regard to how their athletes are feeling on a consistent basis. Athletic programs can use this data to address issues that were previously unknown.
The anonymous allocation of aggregate data is a major part of the app. Many athletes come from an environment where there is a stigma surrounding seeking help with mental health issues. They learn to deal with these issues internally which are not good for them and seldom resolve the issue. Student-athletes often feel uncomfortable seeking help because they don’t want to feel singled out among their teammates or they fear being vocal about their issues will impact their relationship with their coaches in a negative manner. Because The Zone collects aggregate data, teams won’t run into these issues. The feedback given by the players is relayed to the coaches collectively so as to protect the privacy of the players. This way coaches can get accurate data on their entire team and the athletes don’t have to worry about being single out.
The Zone also provides wellness content. Whether it’s financial or nutritional wellness the Zone can make sure athletes are maintaining themselves both physically and mentally with the help of its wellness partners. The Zone believes It is important that student-athletes have resources readily available to them at all times. Too many resources are simply placed on an obscure page of links that an athlete has to sift through themselves. The content on the app can be an invaluable resource for universities and their athletes.
The app is also a way to keep both the team and individuals organized and on schedule. Athletes can set personalized goals on the app itself and establish a plan to reach them. The team can use the calendar feature to make sure everyone knows what is happening and when it is going to occur. The athlete will have the contact information of all the staff available within the app, so they won’t have an issue getting in contact with any of their coaches. The Zone makes sure teams are working as a unit and athletes are reaching the goals that are set for them.
The Zone views feedback and data from universities as invaluable resources. One goal it shares with all athletes alike is the constant need to improve. The Zone recognizes that it can’t have thought of everything athletes need, and feedback will be important in gathering said information. That is why The Zone prides itself on its flexibility and its ability to include and remove features as they learn more about what universities need from the application.
The Zone gives universities a way to be more proactive when it comes to taking care of their student-athletes. In a world where personal wellness has more and more value, The Zone can provide an all in one personalized experience for colleges and their players so they can thrive both on and off the field.