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Spartans emphasizing student-athlete mental health

Ashton Henderson played for Michigan State's football team from 2006 to 2009. Earlier this year, he returned to the university, becoming the executive associate athletics director for championship resources.
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Ashton Henderson played for Michigan State's football team from 2006 to 2009. Earlier this year, he returned to the university, becoming the executive associate athletics director for championship resources.

EAST LANSING – Returning to Michigan State earlier this year was an opportunity Ashton Henderson couldn’t turn down. Yes, the chance to work for his alma mater was part of the reason for his excitement. But there was a specific aspect of his role — he’s MSU’s executive associate athletics director for championship resources — that attracted him most.

He would be the chief proponent for the mental health of student-athletes.

Mental health is a cause that motivates Henderson every day.

A four-year letterwinner for MSU’s football team from 2006 to 2009, Henderson has family members who have battled mental health challenges. And he’s seen the way it’s affected others who once played for MSU.

“Seeing and being around former Spartans and teammates who are still struggling with mental health barriers in their lives?” Henderson said. “Those are things I didn’t necessarily know about.”

He’s not having to go it alone.

Michigan State created two full-time positions solely devoted to the endeavor: Molly McQueary and Jeff Williams both hold the title of director of student-athlete wellness. Williams is a licensed clinical social worker; McQueary focuses on mental performance.

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