‘Hilinski’s Hope’ brings light to mental health in student athletes at JMU

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 11:39 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - As the topic of mental health grows across the country, one family is turning their tragedy into triumph for student-athletes across the United States.

Members of JMU Athletics participated in a “Tyler Talk” Tuesday night about mental health in student-athletes.

Tyler Hilinski was a quarterback at Washington State University.

His parents, who are the founders of Hilinski’s Hope and hosted the Tyler Talk, said everything was fine with him the last time they saw him. However, Tyler took his own life five years ago.

Now, his parents have made it their mission to support the mental health of student-athletes across the country.

”It’s a tough story to tell, a tough one to hear but a really important one because it gives ... not that they need it but a permission sort of built-in,” Mark Hilinski, Tyler’s father said. “If were talking about this it’s okay for everybody to talk.”

The Tyler Talk is a one-hour presentation by the Hilinkski’s about their son’s life.

“We want to convince them that if they’re struggling or have a teammate struggling, they should help immediately. Do not to wait,” Mark Hilinksi said.

They said they hope this opens conversations between student-athletes, coaches and administration.

“In our job, as we see it, doing these talks is really just to try and clear the path between the person that can get help, that needs help and the person that can give it,” Hilinksi said.

Members of JMU Athletics are still grieving after losing one of their teammates to suicide last year.

Lauren Bernett was a member of JMU softball’s World Series run team.

“You don’t need a tragedy to ask for help, we want you to ask for help, let the professionals help guide you to what’s really causing it and what’s wrong,” Mark Hilinksi said.

After her death in April of 2022, the team canceled the remainder of its season, but they are gearing up to take the field again in a few weeks.

”We understand their path and their struggle and how hard it is to actually practice every day, go to games when you know that one of your fellow teammates also passed by suicide,” Kym Hilinski, Tyler’s mother said.

To learn more about Hilinski’s Hope visit the organization’s website.