Mental health discussion at CTS 2023 pairs personal experience and expert insight

‘No one is an island: A guide to health and mental wellness’ on the Interactive Grass Stage will offer tips on what to look for in yourself ... and others.


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When Miranda Robinson had her first panic attack, the event itself was momentary. However, she says, the effects took much longer for her to understand.

“When I had my first panic attack, the topic of mental health was not as public, and it took me over a decade of doctors’ appointments, research and networking to find a way back to a healthy mind space,” says Robinson, operations manager for the British Columbia Golf Superintendents Association, and a four-year GCSAA member. 

Robinson says her experience has made her passionate about helping others address mental health issues in their lives and the lives of people they’re close to. “I wish to share my story to help other people recognize symptoms within themselves,” Robinson says. “When you recognize and understand symptoms, you can start to take steps to manage them.”

Robinson will be part of a panel discussing the critical importance of mental health and wellness for golf course management professionals today at the 2023 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. The panel discussion, “No one is an island: A guide to health and mental wellness,” will take place at 1:15 p.m. on the Interactive Grass Stage on the trade show floor. 

The panel discussion will cover a variety of topics including ways to identify when you need assistance, how to recognize when a member of your team could use help, and the triggers inherent among turfgrass professionals’ behavior that may have unintended impacts on others. GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans will lead the panel in a round robin of questions and answers, as well as provide an overview of GCSAA resources available to members in need. 

The panel is comprised of GCSAA members and mental health experts sharing their personal experiences and expertise on this multi-faceted subject. In addition to Robinson, who will speak on identifying those on your team who need mental health assistance and how to approach the topic in the workplace, the panel includes:

  • Jim Croxton, CEO of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), sharing how the U.K. is dealing with the similar challenges faced in the U.S. 
  • Lori A. Hoffner, a mental health expert and president of Supporting CommUnity, offering a roadmap to understand the signs indicating when you should reach out for assistance and resources to help. She will focus on resiliency, discuss the resistance to seek assistance and ignore signs of stress, and then provide resources available to “take care of yourself.”
  • GCSAA Past President Pete Grass, CGCS, superintendent at Hilands Golf Club in Billings, Mont., sharing his experience of identifying how the perfectionist and detail-oriented work of superintendents creates a mental health challenge. Grass is receiving the 2022 Leo Feser Award at the Conference and Trade Show this year for his article detailing his personal mental health journey.

Evans says conference and trade show attendees will learn how to be a better coworker, supervisor and friend, in addition to speaking up for your own mental health needs, after attending the session. “Mental health is a critical part of an overall wellness regimen, and this session was designed to offer insights you can apply toward your own wellness and to help others,” Evans says. “It’s important to attend, not just for yourself, but to learn how to recognize when those around you are in need.”

Robinson says she’s hopeful that her story can help others learn to better recognize and address their personal needs. “The hardest part for me was learning what my symptoms were because they can manifest in many ways and present like something completely different,” Robinson says. “With some mindfulness and honest introspection, you can find your mental health thresholds and ways to help manage them.” 

Robinson adds the same is true from a management standpoint. “As managers of people, we may notice when someone is not quite themselves,” she says. “Sometimes something as little as stopping to ask if they are okay can make a huge difference and that is something I hope people can take away from our conversation.” 

Abby Olcese is GCM's online editor.