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Athletes for Hope Hosts Inaugural Athlete Mental Health Advocacy Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  On the morning of Wednesday, May 31st, 2023, Athletes for Hope (AFH) hosted its first Athlete Mental Health Advocacy Day at the U.S. Capitol. In a day full of emotional stories and successful championing of U.S. legislators, AFH moved further towards its goal of helping establish a National Athlete Mental Health Bill of Rights. 

As AFH Board Chair Mark Levinstein and AFH CEO Jason Belinkie stood before a room full of athlete mental health organization leaders, the united mission to support legislation that advocates athlete mental health took many steps forward. 

Williams and Connolly, LLC generously hosted a morning breakfast and briefing that began at 9 a.m. where many organizations were in attendance.

To begin the day, Morgan’s Message’s Dona and Kurt Rodgers, Hilsinki’s Hope’s Mark and Kym Hilinski, Awvee Storey, Andrea Kalochristianikas and Rawle Andrews Jr. headlined a series of testimonies that shared each person’s connection to the athlete mental health space. 

Whether it was heartfelt stories about family and friends suffering from mental health problems, loved ones lost, or sharing an appreciation for AFH’s Athlete Mental Health Advocacy Day, the breakfast ended with more relationships formed and the coalition only growing. 

“We were so thrilled to bring together this incredible group of athletes, advocates, parents, and partners for our first athlete mental health advocacy day,” said AFH Chief Wellbeing Officer Suzanne Potts. “This kickoff meeting is an exciting opportunity to learn from experts in this space and lead our athlete networks towards greater mental health advocacy opportunities.”

AFH would also like to thank The Hidden Opponent, Tackle What’s Next, Mindz Matter, Enough Suffering in Silence, the Bipartisan Policy Center, Alliance of Social Workers in Sports, The Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport, Grassroots Health and Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative for attending. 

After the morning brief, AFH Director of Development Diana Venezia, Suzanne Potts, and Jason Belinkie led several groups to the U.S. Capitol and surrounding buildings for discussions and conversations with congressmen and their various staff. 

The groups met with the staff of many Senators and Representatives including Representative Jamie Raskin, Senator John Cornyn, Representative Colin Allred, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and several others. 

The discussions spanned from a breakdown of what AFH and the other organizations’ goals are in terms of helping establish legislation as well as an overview of how politicians can help athlete mental health as a whole.

The staffers were receptive to the potential of an Athlete Mental Health Bill of Rights and opened the doors to future collaboration between AFH and Capitol Hill. 

The day ended with a group photograph and debrief in front of the U.S. Capitol where the groups shared their conversations and what can be done to help improve the awareness spreading in the future. 

As preparations begin for the next Athlete Mental Health Advocacy Day, AFH invites parties to join the coalition for upcoming Advocacy Days.