Chicago Sky Launches Mental Health Effort for Women Athletes and Their Fans

OKRP helps team keep their head in the game

Fandom runs deep, and while we often place our favorite athletes on pedestals, at the end of the day they're human just like the rest of us. Their bodies need to be in stellar shape to play, and that includes their mental health and well-being.

Reigning WNBA champions Chicago Sky launched "The Net," a network of mental health support in sport, to make mental health a priority for athletes. This variety of resources was unveiled at the Chicago Sky's home game on Aug. 7.

A series of videos starring Sky Sports psychologist Patrice Whitfield and Sky players Azurá Stevens, Rebekah Gardner and Ruthy Hebard highlight the importance of mental health, and players share their own ways they destress when they're off the court.

"Head In The Game | Chicago Sky, ""The Net""
The Net | Patrice Winfield & Self-Worth
The Net | Ruthy Hebard and the Outdoors
The Net | Azura Stevens and Meditation
The Net | Rebekah Gardner and Self-Care

"The catalyst for this initiative was the rising need for mental health intervention among women athletes, an issue of immense importance that was not being fully addressed in sport," says Betsy Ross, head of client business at OKRP, the agency behind the initiative. "Our challenge was to get something off the ground fast given the short playing season and our desire to create something impactful that could be announced on the team's home court."

Videos will run via paid media and the Jumbotron during games.

A set of trading cards and warm-up game T-shirts further amplify the cause. Cards feature an action shot of a player on the front, and the back offers tips and tools, like journaling and meditation, for managing mental health. The warm-up tee is half basketball and half brain, a mantra to "Keep your head in the game." Mesirow Financial signed on as Chicago Sky's official mental health sponsor.

"I really have to take care of myself. I spend a lot of time with my thoughts," Azurá Stevens, forward for the Sky, tells Muse. "And I think that's important in life—we think thousands of things every day, and not all of them are true."

It was important at all levels of the organization to include the fans in this undertaking, including listing local resources to reach out to.

"The fans are very important," adds Tania Haladner, VP of marketing for Chicago Sky. "We want them to better understand the pressure that comes from the type of physical performance that is expected on the court and on the field. Moreover, our fans also experience mental health challenges in their own families and with their young athletes. We want to inspire all of Skytown to focus on their mental health."


Agency: OKRP
Production Company: Putney
Betsy Ross, Head of Client Business 
Elena Robinson, Head of Production 
Andrea Knowles, Creative Director
Alex Aikens, Producer
Raul Vallines, Senior Designer 
Lindsay Rynne, Senior Editor
Rae Faiman, ACD Copywriter
Maya Horton, Producer
Johnnie Lovett (CEO of Unsurfaced)
Peter Bender (of Sitelogic), Web Designer & Developer

Chicago Sky:
Tania Haladner, Chicago Sky VP of Marketing 
Amber Del Rio, Chicago Sky Video Producer

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