Maryland football becomes first to receive mental health training after recent state bill

Led by head coach Mike Locksley, the Maryland football staff became the first to receive Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training after last month’s passing of Maryland Senate Bill 165.

In a feature story by Michael Rovetto on UMTerps.com, Locksley’s training is part of an overall effort to certify all coaches and athletic staff with MHFA training. “Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to assist and support others who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge,” Dr. Kristi Hall said.

Less than one week prior to the passing of Maryland’s bill, Locksley hosted a Mental Health Symposium at Jones-Hill House with the initiative becoming increasingly important to him in recent years. “The stigma that as a football player you’re soft if you wanna meet or talk with people about mental health, and that, ‘Oh, just get over it,’” Locksley said in 2020. “And there is no ‘get over it.’

Locksley spoke about mental health at the Project Play Summit in Baltimore last month.

“Yeah, it starts with failure. I had a son, Meiko Anthony Locksley who was a Division One football player, played for me at New Mexico. When I came back to Maryland, he ended up finishing up at Towson State University and he dealt with mental health issues before he was killed in 2017. And for the first time in my life, mental health never affected me. And now it was really personal for me because I saw a son that was a normal football playing, Division One football player at the age of 21 struggle with understanding myth from reality. And it just happened just almost like that for me. And when I saw the look in Meiko’s eyes as he struggled with mental health, I saw the same look that…Travon Bellamy who played for me at Illinois in 2007. And it’s that look where you can almost see a person’s soul. And because of that, and going through what we went through with Meiko in his struggle, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and trying to find ways to provide the resources for him opened up doors for me that I’ve said to myself, I’ve had a lot of football players over my 34 years that I’ve seen that look, but I didn’t recognize it. And because of that, it is the tragedy of losing my son, which may have been attributed to his mental health issue has motivated me to take care of the 18-to-22 year olds that I’ve had the opportunity to develop from boys to men.”

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