Student Athlete Mental Health and Creating a Safe and Supportive Culture

Last Updated on February 3, 2023

In this episode, I’m joined by Samantha Arsenault Livingstone, an Olympic Gold Medalist,  high-performance consultant, speaker, educator and mental health advocate. 

Samantha was a member of the U.S. Swimming National Team, 1999 U.S. Pan Pacific Team and 2000 U.S. Olympic Team. As an 18-year-old, she stood atop the Olympic podium in Sydney, Australia after swimming the lead-off leg of the record-setting 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay. Post- Olympics, Samantha battled an eating disorder, depression and shoulder surgery. 

With the help of an amazing mentor, she rose from the rubble stronger, happier and healthier, ending her career as a 7 x NCAA All-American. To close out her career, Samantha led her teammates to the 2005 National Championship title as the co-captain of the Georgia Bulldogs.

At home in the classroom, Samantha spent six years teaching high school science and coaching swimming. She is the founder of Livingstone High Performance and the Whole Athlete Initiative (the WAI) providing pillars of support to athletes, coaches, parents and organizations to elevate mental health and improve performance. In addition to private and group coaching, Samantha consults with teams and organizations on athlete wellness initiatives, leadership, strategic planning, rising skills and developing high-performance cultures.

She is a certified instructor of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) and a certified instructor of Mental Health First Aid. Samantha holds a master’s degree in secondary science education from the University of Georgia. She lives in New England with her husband, Rob, and four daughters. 

In this episode, we discussed:

  • How coaches and administrators can spot issues student athletes might have coming into their program from home or previous sports experience
  • How administrators can set the tone for compliance for everything from practice limits to sexual abuse and communicate to student athletes that it matters
  • Samantha’s message for student athletes who fear coming forward about violations will lead to retaliation
  • How coaches can create a culture where student athletes feel comfortable talking to them about issues
  • The lack of mental health resources and education in intercollegiate athletics
  • As a parent, how Samantha talks to her kids about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior from their coaches

Samantha’s website:
Follow Samantha on LinkedInFacebook and Instagram.

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