Back in June, Philly.com talked to former pro basketball player and South Jersey native Tyson Hartnett about his book, Hoop Dreams Fulfilled: An Athlete's Failure and Redemption on the Journey to Professional Basketball, where he opened up about his struggle with depression and anxiety as he pursued his hoop dreams, and since then Hartnett has discovered that a lot more athletes than he realized share his struggles, that there is a definite need for more mental health resources for athletes.
To answer that need, Hartnett has created a website, ATHLETEMINDED.com, where he offers a mental development program for athletes.
"I started out just writing things down that had helped me and realized that I had dozens of pages of resources for athletes struggling with the pressures of the game," he explained.
The program includes morning and evening rituals to help set positive tones for the day as well as a weekly planner where an athlete can proactively handle the stresses of each week. He also offers mental health exercise videos on various topics like dealing with depression, fear of failure, injury and handling coaches as well as email advice from their team of professionals.
Hartnett has partnered with the University of Michigan as well as Arete Sports Arena, Minding Your Mind Foundation, Kyle Ambrogi Foundation and the Madison Holleran Foundation to reach more athletes. He also works closely with Dr. Shannon Reece, founder of Training for Optimal Performance, Dr. David M. Reiss, a psychiatrist who focuses his practice on athletes and performers, and Alexandra Tomlinson, a certified nutrition, health and wellness coach.
Right now he offers online resources that include mental health exercise videos on various topics, but he is also developing relationships with different schools and universities to bring the program to them. He hopes to work with many Philly schools, and is also in discussion with Rowan University to create an app to streamline all the content and information.
What drives Hartnett is the desire to help those athletes who are facing the same struggles he did. "A lot of them are dealing with depression and fear and they feel like they don't have anyone to talk to," he said.
"Because the coach is the one who dictates their playing time, often athletes don't feel comfortable confiding in him or her."
Hartnett's ultimate vision is to create a mental health army to help athletes. "People need to stand up and be willing to talk about their experiences with depression, fear and anxiety because it will encourage others to find their own voices," he said.
"It is interesting that despite different sports and training, all athletes face the same mental pressure."
He added that athletes need to realize that mental struggles are not necessarily a bad thing. They just need to find health ways to deal with high pressure arenas.
You can learn more about ATHLETEMINDED here. Below is one of the videos that Hartnett offers on the website.