Pictures of the sports psychiatry faculty in front of a soccer field
October 5, 2020

UCR School of Medicine to launch unique sports psychiatry fellowship program

Program will train the next generation of sports psychiatrists and provide clinical services to UCR student-athletes

Author: Ross French
October 5, 2020

The UC Riverside School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience will launch a unique, first-in-the-nation sports psychiatry fellowship program. Developed in partnership with UC Riverside Intercollegiate Athletics and UCR Health, this non-ACGME program will begin accepting applications in 2021 and will start in 2022.

While there are other schools that use sports psychiatrists as consultants, the UC Riverside program is unique is that it will be both a clinical program that helps to treat athletes, but also a graduate medical educational, or GME, program that will train the next generation of sports psychiatrists.

"This is a fellowship in name, but what we have planned is a collaborative, integrative, multi-disciplinary program to enhance mental wellness in athletes throughout Southern California, including student-athletes here at UC Riverside," said Dr. Gerald Maguire, the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the UCR School of Medicine.

The fellowship will accept one fellow annually for the year-long program with plans to expand in the future. It will train psychiatrists to address the mental health and performance needs of athletes across a wide range of sports, ages, cultures, and racial issues.

Maguire lauded UCR Director of Athletics Tamica Smith Jones and UCR Associate Athletics Director for Sports Medicine & Performance Tony Ontiveros as key partners in the development of the program, which will work to provide services to the more than 300-plus student athletes who make up UC Riverside's 17 intercollegiate athletics programs.

"We are incredibly excited about the launch of the sports psychiatry program at UC Riverside and the clinical services it will provide to UCR Athletics,” Jones said. “This is going to have a tremendous impact on our student-athletes while providing additional resources for our sports medicine unit. We are looking forward to building upon a longstanding partnership and strengthening our holistic support model for our teams to compete in the classroom, in sport and in life, thanks to this much needed support from Dr. Maguire and the Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.”

Ontiveros added: "This partnership is a game changer for the young men and women who wear UCR blue and gold because we will be able to bring them opportunities for success, both on and off the field, that they never had before. It is happening at a great time. Student-athletes are sharing their personal mental health journeys and treatment is becoming de-stigmatized."

Dr. Todd Stull will join UC Riverside as the fellowship director. For more than 15 years, Stull has worked with athletes to address mental health and performance issues by using psychological and medical interventions along with mental skills training. His work has extended to help executives and physicians identify and address mental health, substance use, interpersonal and wellness needs. He became the first full-time psychiatrist in the NCAA when he was hired as the senior associate athletic director for performance at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in 2017.

Stull serves as president of the International Society for Sports Psychiatry and will be the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee's mental health officer for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. He co-authored the mental health guidelines for the International Olympic Committee in 2019 and is an editor of the ISSP Manual of Sports Psychiatry.

"This is an incredible opportunity at a time when the well-being and healthy development of athletes is at the forefront of creating a meaningful experience and enhancing performance," Stull said. "With the growing recognition and increasing prevalence of mental health needs in athletes I am grateful to be a part of this groundbreaking fellowship program and for the support of Dr. Maguire, Tony Ontiveros and UCR."

Ontiveros said UC Riverside is honored to welcome a professional of Stull's caliber.

"Dr. Stull is the Michael Jordan, the LeBron James, the Kobe Bryant of Sports Psychiatry," Ontiveros said.

Joining Stull on the fellowship faculty are renowned Orange County sports psychologist Ben Strack, founder of Proball, and current UCR faculty member and clinical neuropsychologist David Franklin.

"Today, it is more evident than ever that athletes are in need of emotional balancing in their life," Strack said. "UC Riverside’s groundbreaking efforts to launch a sport psychiatry fellowship will bridge an important gap between the unique emotional and psychological needs of athletes and the delivery of innovative evidence-based mental health care. As a seasoned psychologist who specializes in working with elite athletes, I’m excited to play a role in UCR's new program."

In addition to helping UC Riverside student-athletes, the program will be available to Southern California athletes — from high school to professional — through UCR Health, the clinical service provider of the UCR School of Medicine.

Media Contacts