Gift Boosts Blue Jays' Well-Being

December 18, 2023 by Ruth Wendlandt

Endowed fund supports student-athletes’ mental health and performance programs

The Johns Hopkins University Department of Athletics is focused on leading the way when it comes to providing mental health resources for its nearly 700 scholar-athletes. Brock Turnbaugh, assistant director of student-athlete mental health and performance and licensed professional counselor (LCP), is creating a game plan to increase wellness initiatives for current Blue Jays. To support Turnbaugh’s goals, Jeffrey Shiu, a 2002 Krieger School graduate, and his wife Emily Liu established the Jeffrey Ma Shiu and Emily Liu Mental Health and Wellness Endowment Fund.

Jeffrey Shiu, Emily Liu, and their two children are standing and smiling in a park. Shiu is holding their son and Liu is standing behind their daughter.
Johns Hopkins alum Jeffrey Shiu and his wife Emily Liu established the Jeffrey Ma Shiu and Emily Liu Mental Health and Wellness Endowment Fund, supporting the Department of Athletics wellness programs. Above: the Shiu family in Whistler, British Columbia, in 2023.

“We admire the fact that Hopkins recognizes the importance of mental health and well-being. There’s an outlet for scholar-athletes to share their feelings and seek out support,” says Shiu. “We want this gift to be an additive to the infrastructure Hopkins is building. We want to give Brock more tools and give students more access and pathways.”

The fund will expand on philanthropic priorities of incorporating telehealth pods, team-specific workshops, and additional programming. Currently, there are three mental health-focused scholar-athlete groups. In the past four years scholar-athletes are reporting increased levels of depression and anxiety. The mental health program is rooted in preventative intervention.

Brock Turnbaugh is wearing a dark suit with a blue tie. He's smiling in front of a blue backdrop.
Brock Turnbaugh creates wellness initiatives for the Department of Athletics, assisting the 24 varsity programs, coaches, and nearly 700 current Blue Jays.

As a Johns Hopkins University Men’s Lacrosse alumnus, Turnbaugh, a 2018 Krieger School of Arts and Sciences graduate, can relate to the struggles athletes face on a daily basis.

“By creating and implementing team workshops, meeting students on an individual level, and informally stopping by practices, lifts, and games, the trust and relationships continue to grow,” says Turnbaugh. “This fosters an environment where scholar-athletes can actively seek the resources they need to thrive at a team level and as individuals.”

Jennifer Baker, associate vice provost and director of athletics and recreation at Johns Hopkins, calls mental health a top priority. She described the endowed gift as a tangible demonstration of the department’s commitment to supporting scholar-athletes.

“There are not a lot of college campuses and athletic departments that have these programs. It makes me proud to be a leader and have partners and supporters in Jeff and Emily,” says Baker. “I am excited to collaborate with both Brock and our scholar-athletes to grow our programs and offerings in the future.”

“If we can help students control how they are thinking, feeling, and approaching things, it can help them be the best versions of themselves,” adds Shiu.

The field hockey team is wearing their uniforms are huddled in a group smiling. The team is holding a 2023 Field Hockey Centennial Conference Champions banner.
Brock Turnbaugh has collaborated with the field hockey team. Here, the team celebrates being the 2023 Field Hockey Centennial Conference Champions.

Emma Rose, a midfielder on the field hockey team agrees. The junior describes how Turnbaugh supports scholar-athletes as they plan wellness events and how he listens to their feedback.

“Brock has helped facilitate mental performance conversations. He holds space for our team to come together and share openly with each other,” says Rose, a behavioral biology and public health major from Louisville, Kentucky. “Having mental health support built into athletics is helping to make Hopkins athletics a place where we support others who are struggling and encourage everyone to develop helpful mental tools during their time here.”

Reframing perspective is one of Shiu’s hopes for current and future Blue Jays as they make the most of Turnbaugh’s resources.

“Scholar-athletes who take advantage of this mental health program are going to remember how they felt when they needed support. It’s going to carry forward into their lives,” says Shiu. “I’m proud to be a part of the university. Johns Hopkins cares about the well-being of its students. The university wants to be the leader in mental health and well-being awareness.”

Make Your Gift

Interested in supporting well-being initiatives for student athletes?

Topics: Alumni, Faculty and Staff, Blue Jays Unlimited (Athletics), Promote and Protect Health, Support Scholars