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Nonprofit aims at helping current and former CU athletes with mental health support

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, about 35% of elite athletes suffer from eating disorders, burnout, depression or anxiety.

BOULDER, Colo. — A nonprofit created by University of Colorado legends is hoping to help current and former student-athletes with mental health struggles they may face. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, about 35% of elite athletes suffer from eating disorders, burnout, depression or anxiety.

It's something that wasn't talked about in college sports for a long time. Former CU linebacker and team captain, Sean Tufts knows that. 

"I think we were just starting to understand mental health as athletes and it's changed dramatically in the 20 years since I left," Tufts recalled. "We were more focused on bench press and power cleans and now we’re taking a whole athlete approach where we’re looking at those things like anxiety, performance-related issues that happen more in the head than the feet or the hands. So that’s a place where athletics have grown leaps and bounds specifically in five years."

Tufts is president of Buffs4Life a nonprofit organization founded by CU student-athletes looking for a way to support teammates that were struggling. The organization concentrates on current and former CU student-athletes. 

"So any former athlete can come to Buffs4Life that's struggling with mental health. We focus on a couple of key areas: family, career, substance abuse and physical health," Tufts explained. 

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"Mental health is everyone's game. We played in Folsom Field in front of 50k people and if we can be an encouraging factor to have hard mental health conversations that's our goal."

Buffs4Life is for any CU student-athlete not just football players. Tufts hopes conversations about mental health are normalized in the years to come and he hopes any student-athlete, current or former, know they are simply not alone. 

"Ending sports is hard. Your whole identity is wrapped up in who you were and that is one day gone and you can never really replicate it," Tufts explained. "Lets make sure we’re surrounding our community with resources when they need them."

Buffs4Life does run a crisis line for student-athletes in need. Help can be reached at: 833-303-BUFF. 

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