Noblesville-based JRNY Counseling is doing its part to help athletes struggling with mental health.
Hall of Fame Health, which was created by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020 to address health care issues for former players, approached JRNY Counseling in 2022 to discuss a partnership with an initiative on behavioral health.
JRNY, which is just pronounced as journey, is co-owned by Indianapolis resident Melanie Short and Noblesville resident Holly Homan. Short said Hall of Fame Health was looking for providers in the area where there are NFL teams. Short and Homan opened their business in June 2017.
“They were looking for providers to be able to provide services to people who call their concierge service,” Short said. “They want providers who are vetted in a network so that they know that they’re making referrals to people who would know how to treat the callers. The cool thing about it is that they actually have opened up the concierge line to anybody. It did start out with the initiative to help former NFL players, but it has turned into helping anybody in the general public, which is pretty cool.”
Short said professional athletes, especially men, don’t talk about mental health very much. Short said only recently have pro and college athletes begun to come forward to discuss the mental health struggles they’ve had.
“Which has been huge because it’s allowed others to come forward or at least move forward in getting their own help,” Short said. “What they found is that people are struggling after retirement. People have trauma to their body. They have anxiety, substance abuse disorders, depression, all kinds of different mental health issues. Some of them have just gone unaddressed for years and years because they just didn’t reach out to get help.”
Short said the concierge line is great because it allows referrals for student-athletes to get help, too.
“We really would love to be able to help people sooner before they’ve struggled for years and years,” Short said.
Short said when athletes are taking care of their mental health, their performance is better.
“It really impacts somebody overall. Their body feels better, they’re able to have more clarity when they are engaging in their sport,” Short said. “It’s very much linked to better outcomes.”
Short said there is so much pressure to perform, even in grade school and high school, that it’s important to deal with any anxiety. The ability to turn that pressure into more of excitement feeling is key.
“When we’re in that space it is so much easier to be able to perform athletically and very well,” Short said.
Short said initiatives such as the Indianapolis Colts’ Kicking the Stigma of mental health issues help.
“It takes a person eight to 10 years to reach out for help,” Short said. “The No. 1 reason people wait so long after they’ve been suffering for eight to 10 years is stigma. They are worried about what their family is going to think, especially if they’re in the public eye. They are worried about what the public is going to think. A decade is a very long time to suffer in silence, so stigma has to be addressed.”.
JNSY and Hickory House, a residential treatment program for substance abuse disorders in Greenfield, were the two Indianapolis-area centers Hall of Fame Health contacted.
“We have an intensive outpatient group program for substance use disorders, and we do a lot of individual counseling for a variety of mental health issues, whether it’s substance use disorders or trauma, anxiety, grief and loss,” Short said.