Ryan Day’s interest in promoting mental health extends beyond its effect on his Ohio State football team.
He and his wife, Nina, have made adolescent mental health a personal project since his ascension to the head coaching job in 2019. The mental-health effects of the pandemic have only increased their passion for the issue.
“It’s something that’s at the forefront for a lot of families, a lot of people right now,” he said. “Certainly, COVID didn’t help. There was a lot of isolation and a lot of trying times for a lot of people. Now more than ever, we need to be aware of mental health.
“I think we’ve done a great job with physical health across the country, but mental health is at a crisis across the country. The second-leading killer of adolescents and teenagers is suicide. But that’s just one manifestation of it. There are a lot of manifestations of mental health, and we all need to be aware of it.”
Ohio State: Day says mental health challenges of 2020 should make Buckeyes stronger
Shortly after Ryan became head coach, the Days created the Ryan and Christina Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Wellness at Nationwide Children’s Hospital with an initial donation of $100,000. The Days are involved with the “On Our Sleeves” initiative that strives to end the stigma about mental health.
Recently, Dublin-based clothing company Bend released a Christina Day Collection of apparel with “On Our Sleeves” logos. A portion of sales proceeds will go to the Christina and Ryan Day Fund.
The Days’ biggest current initiative is “Day Time Break” toolkits promoting mental health in schools. The kits serve as a resource for educators, parents and caregivers in helping to identify and aid adolescents who might be having mental health challenges.
Nina Day said that 1 million kits have been distributed, with a goal of reaching an additional million classrooms by October.
“We think now more than ever that these kids need the resources,” she said. “We’re almost post-pandemic. Now we have a lot of kids with a lot of anxiety, a lot of depression. And nobody knows where to go. There’s no help.
“Our goal right now is to make sure that there are enough available free resources for parents, teachers, guidance counselors — anyone who needs them — because right now no one knows what to do. That’s what I hear from everybody. They don’t know where to turn.
“I hear from a lot of teachers and guidance counselors as well that they don’t have a lot of resources to help these kids and these parents. People are crying out for help, and there’s just not a lot of help out there. I find that to be incredibly disturbing.”
For more information on the Ryan and Christina Day Fund, visit https://www.onoursleeves.org/take-action/champions/day-family-fund.
For more information on the “Day Time Break” kits, visit https://www.onoursleeves.org/mental-wellness-tools-guides/self-care/day-time-break.