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The 1 in 4 Project: Tackling Mental Health in Sports
May 13, 2015

Photo caption: Lorin Mordecai, Akilah King, Natalie Graves, and Brandon St. Croix

One in four people struggle with mental illness, and this statistic carries over into the sports world. The 1 in 4 Project is working to raise awareness of mental health issues in sports and reduce existing biases against mental health.

“Athletes are perceived as being strong and masculine. They have a ‘win all’ mindset…a winning record means receiving more recognition and generating more revenue. There is definitely a stigma against mental health in sports and the 1 in 4 Project team wants to shed light on these issues. We want to let athletes know that it is okay to talk about mental health,” said Lorin Mordecai.

Lorin Mordecai volunteers as the Program and Marketing Specialist with the 1 in 4 Project. She is a Rutgers University alumni, employee, and sports fan. Mordecai graduated with an MSW in 2013 and plans to further her education starting this fall with a PhD in Social Work at UCONN School of Social Work. Currently, she works as a Program Coordinator for the Institute for Families at Rutgers School of Social Work coordinating statewide trainings for child welfare staff.

The 1 in 4 Project was founded in October of this year by Natalie Graves. Graves lives in Chicago, Illinois where she is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Certified School Social Worker, and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She is also an active member of the Sports Social Workers Association, as well as being a national member of the University of Michigan’s Social Worker and Sports Association. More recently, she was interviewed by Social Work Today for a piece entitled “Youth Athletes off the Field”. The 1 in 4 Project is partnered with Swish Dreams, a nonprofit that combines math and reading principles with sports.

The Project hosted its first annual event, “Behind the Jersey: Uncovering Mental Health in Sports” in Chicago on Tuesday April 28th, 2015. A panel discussion was held to begin the conversation of social work in sports which was moderated by Good Day Chicago’s Jon Kelley. Panelists included professionals in various facets of sports: Dr. Emmett Gill, Professor of Social Work and founder of Student-Athletes Human Rights Project San Antonio, Texas; Greg Harden, Associate Athlete Director Athletic Medicine, Student Health and Wellness University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan; Eric Hipple, former NFL quarterback for the Detroit Lions and author of Real Men Do Cry; Katie Lyons, a licensed Clinical Social Worker, former golf professional, and co-founder of The Chicago Institute for Sport Psychiatry; and Candice Williams, Program Manager of The Trust Organization (Powered by NFLPA) in Washington, D.C. Panelists delved into mental health as it relates to race, gender, sports concussions, as well as ways to improve the overall well-being of athletes.

“Our next step is conducting research and consulting with other organizations. We also plan to raise awareness through training. We really want to focus on what is happening both on and off the field,” said Mordecai. The 1 in 4 Project has already received funding to research the impact of sports concussions on mental health. Down the road, Graves hopes to offer counseling to athletes through the Project.

The 1 in 4 Project is a growing, versatile organization. They are currently seeking partnerships to work with communities and provide support for athletes. To learn more about the 1 in 4 Project, visit their website at

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