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Rams RB Kyren Williams, G Logan Bruss & more Rams players partner with EVERFI to continue virtual Mental Health Series for students 

In partnership with EVERFI's Character Playbook, the Rams continued their virtual Mental Health Series for ninth grade students throughout the Los Angeles region. Kicking off the second year of the series, Rams guard Logan Bruss, running back Kyren Williams, linebacker Brayden Thomas and Rams Cheerleaders joined two South Los Angeles schools in person for a mindfulness activity and discussion about mental wellness. The discussion also featured a Q&A session with Rams Sports Psychologist Dr. Carrie Hastings, which was moderated by Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development Johnathan Franklin.

The program explores an array of topics such as self-awareness, relationship skills, responsible decisions making, mental wellbeing, coping strategies, as well as seeking and offering help for students. Dr. Carrie Hastings kicked off the Q&A focusing on the importance of keeping a positive mindset even when coping with life challenges.

"A positive mindset is so important and often underestimated," said Dr. Hastings. When you have two players with the same ability, whoever has the better mindset is going to win. There are ways to maintain a positive mindset. First, you have to identify the maladaptive ways that you are thinking or patterns that are getting in your way. The first step is identifying them and disputing them and replacing them with realistic beliefs and attitudes. For example, when you make a mistake in life, instead of getting mad at yourself, you have to move forward and not dwell on it. That will contribute to a positive mindset."

Mental health plays a key role in everyone's daily life and affects people's emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how they think, feel, and act as well as handle stress, anxiety, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. During this discussion participants were able to learn how to identify symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety and how to tackle them.

"Symptoms of anxiety and depression are first felt within the body, "said Dr. Hastings. "There is a difference between stress and anxiety. Though they can overlap, stress is a response to a specific trigger where anxiety is more pervasive. Sometimes you can feel it in your chest or become short of breath and sweaty. Although people say depression is just feeling sad, depression is described as an absence of feeling or feeling numb which is more than sadness. There are many resources to help such as therapy to begin your healing process. I find the best resource to helping is finding anything that can get those feelings out. That can be exercise, activities, journaling, or talking with someone."

Many times, adolescents deal with hard times whether at home, with friends, at school or even extracurricular activities in schools which can often trigger their mental health. Dr. Hastings shared the best practices to cope with hardships.

"Two of the best ways to decompress is taking a mental rest," said Dr. Hasting. "Sometimes people think they have to spend every moment perfecting their craft whether that's schoolwork or your sport in order to master it and that's not true. You need to take mental breaks so that you can store what you have learned and stay fresh and retain information. Mental rest can come in the form of sleep and shifting your mind to something totally different."

After the Q&A, the students participated in a mindfulness activity led by the Rams players and cheerleaders. They examined different ways of obtaining a healthy lifestyle, staying positive during hardships, and how to help those around them that may be dealing with mental health issues. Towards the end of the session, students were able to ask the rookies how they were able to maintain a positive lifestyle while they were students and now being an NFL athlete.

"You have to give 100 percent in whatever you are doing," said Brayden Thomas. It does not matter if you are at home or even playing sports. Whatever you are doing in the world, give it your all and it give it 100 percent. Do what you have to do to continue making yourself happy and the people around you happy."

The Rams will host monthly virtual sessions for Los Angeles region middle and high school students through March 2023. Each session will cover a variety of mental wellness topics designed to help students learn about the complexities of mental health disorders, healthy coping skills and ways they can seek help. National Football League (NFL) partner, EVERFI is an interactive, digital learning solution that gives organizations the ability to deliver health and wellness education to communities – wherever they are.

Last season, the Rams partnered with EVERFI's Character Playbook to kick off the first installment of a virtual Mental Health Series for 575 students in the Los Angeles region. The students (grades 6-9) joined multiple 45-minute virtual panel discussions featuring Rams players, cheerleaders, Rams Legends and Carrie Hastings. Students defined mental health, differentiated between stress and anxiety, identified the symptoms and learned tips on managing mental health in everyday life. As part of the league-wide initiative, the NFL sponsored five schools and more than 800 students in the LA region to have access to EVERFI's mental wellness curriculum. The league-sponsored schools included Bell Senior High, El Camino Real Charter High School, Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High, Kern Union High School and Newbury Park High School.

To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.

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