Board of Directors approves requirement of mental health course for all coaches

State softball

(Kevin Keyser/

In a major step aimed at improving mental health of students across Colorado high schools, the CHSAA Board of Directors has approved as a requirement that all coaches take a course on student mental health.

It is among the major topics facing high school students today. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 31% of high school students reported symptoms of depression in 2017, and 17% reported they seriously considered attempting suicide.

So, starting this fall, all coaches must take a course "Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention" on the NFHS Learning Center, or a district-led mental health training. The NFHS Learn course is free.

In order to be a registered coach, this requirement must be satisfied. Unregistered coaches are not permitted to coach, per CHSAA bylaws. Other required courses or training are based around concussion, first aid, mandatory reporting, and the CHSAA coaches course.

"CHSAA's vision is to deconstruct the stereotypes around mental health and help start the conversations that need to happen around our kids," said CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green. "The mental and physical well-being of our student participants is our priority."

The decision was made with the full support of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), which discussed the topic at length during its meeting last school year.

"The committee was focused on finding great tools that we can give to our schools and coaches to help provide awareness around mental health, which is among the most important issues our students face," said Jenn Roberts-Uhlig, the CHSAA staff liaison to SMAC. "We believe it is important for coaches to not be afraid to look for the signs and symptoms of a student who is struggling with their mental health, and this training will provide valuable instruction in how to do that."