Texas A&M Partners with Hilinski’s Hope For College Football Mental Health Week

KBTX First News at Four(Recurring)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Hilinski’s Hope, founded by Mark and Kym Hilinski, honors the legacy of their son Tyler who died by suicide in 2018. They recently announced that over 115 schools around the country, including Texas A&M University, are participating in the third annual College Football Mental Health Week from Oct. 1 through 8.

The middle child of three sons, Tyler Hilinski was a quarterback at Washington State University. On the day he passed, Tyler went to football practice at 7 a.m. but failed to show up for the team’s afternoon weight lifting session.

“We had no idea he was struggling. He didn’t really show any signs, and we thought if he was struggling in silence, this wonderful kid who was loved by his coaches, his teammates, his family and friends, how many other student athletes out there were also struggling alone, afraid to reach out for help, embarrassed to reach out for help?” said Kym Hilinski.

So, the grieving parents started Hilinski’s Hope, raising awareness for the mental health struggles student athletes go through hoping to end the stigma around it.

“A lot of [student athletes] are taught from a very young age to grind and be strong on the field, but we tell them all the time if you’re struggling mentally, if you’re not feeling well mentally, you do have to reach out for help,” said Kym Hilinski.

Another part of their mission is to fund and create programs that support the mental health of student athletes, so no student or family has to go through what they did.

“We wish somebody were talking about this when when [Tyler] was struggling and maybe that would have given him a little bit of an impetus or the opportunity to talk about it before he struggled and lost,” said Mark Hilinski.

The universities participating in CMHW will help bring national attention to this issue. Players wear stickers on their helmets in Tyler’s honor and coaches wear lapel pins, but they’ll also be joining in the conversation. In a press conference during CMHW, Texas A&M’s head football coach Jimbo Fisher, discussed the role mental health plays in student’s lives.

“In today’s time, that is the biggest issue in college sports, bar none. Because of the pressures that [are] put on these kids from social media, from media,” said Fisher. “It’s just what they read, what’s out there every day, what people say every day, is you put yourself out there to be scrutinized, criticized, and those young kids get it. I mean constantly.”

Anyone having suicidal thoughts or who is in emotional distress can call or text 988 all day, every day to be connected with trained counselors.