LeeAndra Bridgewaters


Addressing a Silent Crisis: Advocating for the Implementation of School-Based Mental Health Services for Student-Athletes in Secondary Education


In the last ten years, there has been an increase in anxiety, depression, and other mental health diagnoses among high school athletes (Ward et al., 2023). Although high school athletics may bring recognition and status to players, they can also have a negative impact on their mental well-being. Unfortunately, these athletes often do not receive sufficient mental health care, as we frequently see the manifestation of this among professional athletes in the public sphere through media coverage. The purpose of this presentation is to raise awareness and educate clinical professionals, athletic associations, sports coaches, and parents about the distressing reality of the mental health consequences among student-athletes in secondary education. This research is motivated by the knowledge that there is a gap in providing care, research, and therapeutic intervention in mental health care for high school athletes. This presentation will focus on the key aspects of the three chapters: systematic literature review, conceptual papers, and practice application papers. It will include the latest research on this crisis and provide evidence-based theories and interventions to address this silent crisis. Now is the moment to break the silence and advocate for student-athletes in secondary education, enabling them to reach their full mental and physical potential in their athletic endeavors and life.


LeeAndra Bridgewaters began her academic career by earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Spalding University. She continued her education at Spalding, earning her Master of Social Work, where she was honored with the Eileen Eagan Award for exemplifying the University’s mission. Presently, LeeAndra is enrolled as a doctoral candidate in social work at the University of Kentucky. As a social work mental health therapist, she has provided individual and group therapy to countless adolescents and adults as a school-based mental health therapist and certified bereavement specialist. Currently, LeeAndra works as a crisis therapist and part-time university instructor.

As a mother and aunt of former student-athletes and a school-based mental health therapist, she has observed the enduring effects on student-athletes who do not receive adequate mental health support. This has inspired LeeAndra’s Capstone Project, Addressing a Silent Crisis: Advocating for the Implementation of School-Based Mental Health Services for Student-Athletes in Secondary Education. Supported by her research, incorporating school-based mental health services with proactive, evidence-based interventions will increase the number of conscientious and self-regulating student-athletes across various sports. Through this research, LeeAndra hopes to raise awareness, prioritize mental wellness, and provide effective strategies for clinicians, coaches, and parents to support student-athletes’ needs in secondary education.