In partnership with EVERFI’s Character Playbook, the Rams continued their virtual mental health series for ninth graders in the Los Angeles area. At the start of the series’ second year, Rams guard Logan Bruss, running back Kyren Williams, linebacker Brayden Thomas and the Rams Cheerleaders joined two South Los Angeles schools in person for a mindfulness activity and a discussion on mental well-being. The discussion also featured a Q&A with Rams sports psychologist Dr. Carrie Hastings, which was moderated by Rams director of social justice and football development Johnathan Franklin.
The program explores a range of topics such as self-awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, mental well-being, coping strategies, and seeking and offering help to students. Dr. Carrie Hastings kicked off the Q&A session by emphasizing the importance of keeping a positive mindset even in the face of life’s challenges.
“A positive mindset is so important and often underestimated,” Dr. Hastings said. When you have two players with the same ability, the one with the better mood will win. There are ways to maintain a positive mindset. First, you need to identify the maladaptive ways of thinking or the patterns that get in your way. The first step is to identify them, challenge them, and replace them with realistic beliefs and attitudes. For example, when you make a mistake in life, instead of getting angry with yourself, you have to move on and not dwell on it. It will contribute to a positive state of mind.”
Mental health plays a key role in everyone’s daily life and affects people’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects the way they think, feel, and act as well as how they deal with stress, anxiety, relating to others, and making choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence to adulthood. During this discussion, the participants were able to learn how to identify the symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety and how to combat them.
“The symptoms of anxiety and depression are first felt in the body,” Dr. Hastings said. “There is a difference between stress and anxiety. Although they can overlap, stress is a response to a specific trigger where anxiety is more pervasive. Sometimes you can feel it in your chest or become breathless and sweaty. Although people say that depression is just feeling sad, depression is described as a lack of feeling or a feeling of numbness that is more than sad. There are many resources to help you, such as therapy, to start your healing process. I find that the best resource to help you is to find anything that can help you. This can be exercise, activities, a journal or talking with someone .
Oftentimes, teenagers go through difficult times, whether at home, with friends, at school, or even during extracurricular activities in schools, which can often trigger their mental health. Dr. Hastings shared best practices for dealing with difficulties.
“Two of the best ways to decompress is to take mental rest,” Dr. Hasting said. “Sometimes people think they have to spend every moment perfecting their craft, whether it’s at school or in your sport, in order to master it and that’s not true. You need to take mental breaks to be able to storing what you have learned and staying fresh and retaining information. . Mental rest can come in the form of sleep and a change of mind to something totally different.”
After the Q&A session, students participated in a mindfulness activity led by Rams players and cheerleaders. They looked at different ways to live a healthy lifestyle, stay positive during hardship and help those around them who might be struggling with mental health issues. Towards the end of the session, the students were able to ask the rookies how they managed to maintain a positive lifestyle as a student and now an NFL athlete.
“You have to give 100% in everything you do,” Brayden Thomas said. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or even playing sports. Whatever you do in the world, give it your all and give it 100%. Do what you have to do to keep making yourself happy and the people around you happy.”
The Rams will host monthly virtual sessions for middle and high school students in the Los Angeles area through March 2023. Each session will cover a variety of mental wellness topics designed to help students discover the complexity of the disorders mental health, healthy coping skills and ways they can ask for help. A partner of the National Football League (NFL), EVERFI is an interactive digital learning solution that enables organizations to deliver health and wellness education to communities, wherever they are.
Last season, the Rams partnered with EVERFI’s Character Playbook to launch the first installment of a virtual mental health series for 575 Los Angeles-area college students. Students (grades 6-9) participated in several 45-minute virtual roundtables featuring Rams players, cheerleaders, Rams Legends and Carrie Hastings. Students defined mental health, differentiated between stress and anxiety, identified symptoms and learned tips on managing mental health in everyday life. As part of the league-wide initiative, the NFL sponsored five schools and more than 800 Los Angeles-area students to access EVERFI’s mental wellness program. Schools sponsored by the league included Bell Senior High, El Camino Real Charter High School, Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High, Kern Union High School, and Newbury Park High School.
To learn more about the Rams’ community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.
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