Welcome to the official blog of the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative. Like a huddle, this is the place where we put our heads and our hearts together in preparation for the challenges ahead. SAMHI is a not-for-profit organization that advocates and supports the mental wellbeing of student athletes. Find out how your contribution can make a difference in the health and performance of student-athletes across Canada.


Supporting the mental health of student-athletes to help them flourish in and out of competition, across all life domains.


As a champion for student-athlete mental health, SAMHI’s mission is to reduce mental illness stigma in sport, facilitate access to the resources needed to maintain and improve mental health, and advocate on behalf of student-athletes experiencing mental illness. 

Strategic Directions

1. Adopt a student-athlete centered approach.
2. Reduce harmful mental illness stigma in sport through communication campaigns and media work.
3. Connect student-athletes to the tools and resources needed to support mental health.
4. Develop mental health resources for coaches and support staff.
5. Work with governing and administrative bodies in Canadian sport to address policy and service gaps.
6. Collaborate with Canadian post-secondary institutions to establish SAMHI as a leading mental health resource for student athletes.


The voice of student-athletes with mental illness
Knowledge to action

 About the Co-Founders

Samantha DeLenardo is a varsity women’s hockey alumna from the University of Ottawa, Canada, with a MA in Health Communication. Her thesis work focused primarily on exploring perceptions of mental health and illness in varsity football. Building on literature and primary findings, Ms. DeLenardo also designed the early stages of a mental health promotion plan for male football players competing in Canadian Interuniversity Sport. This work would ultimately help to frame the strategic directions of the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative. Ms. DeLenardo currently works for the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres, a recognized leader and advocate for advancing the improvement of healthcare for Canada’s children and youth. Contact her at samantha.delenardo@samhi.ca

Krista Van Slingerland competed for Carleton University Women’s Basketball for three seasons (2010 – 2013), but her struggle with depression and anxiety profoundly changed the direction of her life. Her experiences led her to co-found the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) with Samantha DeLenardo in September of 2013. Ms. Van Slingerland is currently in the first year of her MA  in Human Kinetics, is playing for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, and now serves as a champion for student-athlete mental health. She is striving to ensure that other athletes like herself do not struggle in silence, as she did. Contact her at krista.vanslingerland@samhi.ca

  1. Krista, Thank you for sharing your story.
    I just recently found out about your initiative. I am the Marketing Coordinator with the SAIT Trojans at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary. We are working on promoting mental health initiatives and creating our own weekend called “Make Some Noise” so we can create awareness. Our SAIT student union started a resource centre last year so the momentum is growing campus-wide.
    I wanted to reach out to you to find out more information about how you work directly with schools. I’d love to hear how perhaps we can collaborate and get involved. Hopefully we can connect.
    Billie Rae

  2. Hello. My name is Ladi March. I have started an awareness group in support of learning about the affects mental health illness has on young student athletes in the US. We are just getting started. We would love to connect. My son was a four star recruit and had several football scholarships before being diagnosed with schizophrenia two months ago. Join us at wwww.facebook.com/momlifeorg

  3. Jason Sealy says:

    Hello my name is Jason Sealy. I’m a Positive Psychology Coach and Leadership Development Consultant. I work with several varsity athletics programs, athletes, administrators and coaches. I recently took a Mental Health First Aid Course through George Brown College. The course offers front line service providers the tools to be a Mental Health first-responder. Identifying signs of mental illness or some of the predictors of mental health episodes in order to support students needs and refer to mental health care professionals. In my opinion everyone working with varsity athletes should be equipped with these tools. The greatest benefit from this course was building awareness of the Mental Illness and in particular the context of mental illness and the college and university student. I would highly recommend you sharing the availability of this course as a resource for varsity administrators, coaches and others dealing directly with student athletes.

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