Rams RB Kyren Williams, G Logan Bruss & more Rams players partner with EVERFI to advance Reproductive Health Program for students.

In partnership with EVERFI’s Character Playbook, the Rams continued their virtual Mental Health Series for ninth graders throughout the Los Angeles region. Kicking off the second year of the series, Rams guard Logan Bruss, running back Kyren Williams, linebacker Brayden Thomas and Rams Cheerleaders joined two South Los Angeles schools in person for a mindfulness activity and discussion about mental wellness. The discussion also featured a Q&A session 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 wellbeing, coping strategies, as well as seeking and offering help to students. Dr. Carrie Hastings started the Q&A focusing on the importance of having a positive mindset even when dealing with life’s challenges.

“A positive mindset is so important and often underestimated,” said Dr. Hastings. When you have two players of equal ability, the one with the best mindset will win. There are ways to maintain a positive mindset. First, you need to identify the maladaptive ways of thinking or patterns that are getting in your way. The first step is to identify them and challenge them and replace them with realistic beliefs and attitudes. For example, when you make a mistake in life, instead of getting mad at yourself, move on and don’t dwell on it. It will contribute to a positive mindset.”

Mental health plays a key role in everyone’s daily life and affects people’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how they think, feel and act, as well as handle stress, anxiety, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is important in all phases of life, from childhood and adolescence to adulthood. During this discussion, the participants were able to learn to identify symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety and how to cope with them.

“Symptoms of anxiety and depression are first felt in the body,” said Dr. Hastings. “There is a difference between stress and anxiety. Although they can overlap, stress is a response to a specific trigger where anxiety is more prevalent. Sometimes you can feel it in your chest or get short of breath and sweat. Although people say that depression is just feeling sad depression is described as an absence of feeling or numbness which is more than sadness there are many resources to help such as therapy to start your healing process i find the best resource to help is to find anything that can get them emotions out. It can be exercise, activities, journaling or talking to someone.”

Many times, youth deal with difficult times either at home, with friends, at school, or even extracurricular activities at schools that can often trigger their mental health. Dr. Hastings shared best practices for coping with adversity.

“Two of the best ways to decompress are to take a mental rest,” Dr. Hasting said. “Sometimes people think they have to spend every moment perfecting their craft, whether it’s schoolwork or sports to master it, and that’s not true. You have to take mental breaks so you can store what you’ve learned and keep you fresh and retain information Mental rest can come in the form of sleep and moving your mind to something completely different.”

After the Q&A, students participated in a mindfulness activity led by the Rams players and cheerleaders. They explored different ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle, stay positive during hardships, and how to help those around them who may be dealing with mental health issues. Toward the end of the session, students were able to ask rookies how they were able to maintain a positive lifestyle while being a student and now being an NFL athlete.

“You have to give 100 percent in whatever you do,” Brayden Thomas said. It doesn’t matter if you are at home or playing sports. Whatever you do in the world, give it your all and give it 100 percent. Do what you have to do to continue to make 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 region through March 2023. Each session will cover a variety of mental wellness topics designed to help students learn about the complexities of mental illness, healthy coping skills and ways they can seek help. A National Football League (NFL) partner, EVERFI is an interactive, digital learning solution that empowers 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 students in the Los Angeles region. The students (grades 6-9) joined several 45-minute virtual panel discussions with Rams players, cheerleaders, Rams Legends and Carrie Hastings. The students defined mental health, differentiated between stress and anxiety, identified the 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 students in the LA region to access EVERFI’s mental wellness curriculum. The league-sponsored schools include 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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