08 February . 2019
Promoting Mental Health – Coach Chad Williams
Estrella promotes an active and healthy lifestyle, which includes emotional and mental wellness. Our community supports mental health advocates like Estrella Foothills High School assistant basketball coach, Chad Williams. Williams recently opened up about his own personal experiences in an effort to help students who may be dealing with similar hardships.
Coach Williams struggled with depression for years and dealt with it through cutting and burning before learning how to manage his mental well-being. He hopes that sharing his story will start a conversation about the importance of seeking help. We connected with Coach Williams to learn more about his work with high school students and the importance of self-care.
Name: Chad D. Williams
Title: Coach Williams
Talk about the mental health awareness work you are doing with students. Along with coaching at EFHS, I teach at Youngker High School in Buckeye. Last year they were able to have Project375, an organization dedicated to the education, support, and treatment of mental health, come to YHS and offer an 8-hour youth mental health first aid training. Our school psychologist and I also attended a training that focused on Non-Suicidal Self-Injury.
What inspired you to use your past experience to help your students? Knowing that I have a small platform to help students. I dealt with my struggles for 15 years and never fully understood what was going on. I believe we can all learn from each other, so if sharing my story is able to help one student, then it’s worth it.
Why is it important for students to seek help when they are struggling? It’s important for students to seek help because teenage years can be very difficult. There are resources (counseling, doctors, support groups, etc.) out there for them. If they are able to seek help now, then they will be able to have a better understanding of how to help themselves as they move into adulthood.
Has using your personal story changed your role as a basketball coach and teacher? I believe it definitely has changed my role. The players and students feel more comfortable to talk about what they are going through and hopefully they see me as someone who is able to empathize with what they might be dealing with.
What has been the most rewarding part of helping your students with their mental health? The most rewarding part has been all the support from players, parents, and staff. For decades, mental illness was a taboo topic. Mental health needs to be treated the same as your physical health. The stigma around mental health has eased over the past few years and is now being talked about on many different platforms. For students to be so supportive of our Mental Health Awareness programs shows how accepting they are of other people and the struggles they might be dealing with.
What are some ways to practice mental health on a daily basis? Some of the most important mental health practices are to exercise and enjoy the sun – the brain produces more serotonin when you’re in the sun. I moved to the Valley of the Sun because of the weather and I notice a big difference waking up to sunny days and being active outside with my dog.
What advice do you have for students, or anyone, who is struggling with mental health? The best advice I can give someone is for them to know they are not alone! Statistics show that 88 million people in the U.S. are living with a mental illness. Know that there are people who love you and are willing to help you through your struggles.
Coach Williams recently put together Estrella Foothills’ first Mental Health Awareness Night during one of the boys basketball games. T-shirts with the words “Mind Matters” were worn to spread awareness and show support. To learn more about mental health, visit mentalhealthamerica.net.
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