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Hilinski's Hope visits to encourage mental health in college student-athletes

After Tyler Hilinski's death, Mark and Kym Hilinski have been traveling around the country to break student-athlete stigma. On Wednesday, they visited Whitworth.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Tyler Hilinski took his own life in January of 2018 at Washington State University.

Now his parents are traveling to colleges to spread the message that getting help for mental health issues is okay.

Tyler Hilinski's parents, Mark and Kym are the founders of Hilinski's Hope, a non-profit that focuses on caring for mental health issues in college athletes.

Hilinski's Hope is currently on a west coast college tour speaking to student-athletes about breaking the stigma and talking about the importance of mental health.

"We like to spread our message of hope with student-athletes across the country to let them know they shouldn't be afraid to reach out for help," said Kym Hilinski. "If they are struggling with their mental health, it's actually a strength and not a weakness."

They use these talks to share Tyler's story and to bring attention to the mental health issues that are often not spoken about in college athletics.

"We always think there's a Tyler in the audience in one of these teams. We want to make sure that we are able to take action on the things we learned after Tyler passed,” said Mark Hilinski. “We want to knock down the stigma, bring awareness and create resources, for our student-athletes."

Whitworth football players hope to take the lessons they've learned and practice it in their lives.

"It was a good reminder that even though it might seem like someone's going through something hard, just reach out and be aware. If they're afraid to ask, make sure to look out for your brothers and see if they're okay,” said fifth-year cornerback at Whitworth Colten Chelin.

Rod Sandberg, who's heading into his ninth season as head football coach for the Pirates, says that his players' well-being is always the priority.

"They know we truly care about them as people more than as players,” said Sandberg. “I told those guys yesterday that I love them and that everybody wants to know that they're valued and important. So I think that's the biggest thing. We have a vision and it's life-changing."

Coaches at Whitworth want their athletes to know that it's okay to talk about any mental health problems they might have.

With the fall season right around the corner, it's important that their athletes are ready to go both physically and mentally.

"It actually meant a lot cause there's a stigma around male athletes. We aren't allowed to talk about our feelings and hold everything in. It hit home that there are people to talk to, and there are people who want to talk to us,” said Solo Himes, a third-year runningback

The Hilinski's will visit other colleges and have Tyler Talks to spread their message as widely as they can.

You can find more information about them here.

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