Western University of Health Sciences Senior Vice President and Provost David Baron, DO, MSEd, will join Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing (Feb. 4-20) as a Team USA sports medicine/psychiatrist providing support and care for athletes.
Dr. Baron has a long relationship with the Olympics dating back to his first games in 1984 when he worked the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in the Village polyclinic, providing sports psychiatry services for athletes. Since then, he went on to provide support for athletes in more than six Olympic games working with the International Olympic Committee, National Organizing Committees, and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“I’m looking forward to playing my part in supporting Team USA physically and emotionally,” he said. “It is such a high honor to support these elite athletes and help them achieve their individual peak performances, and I am more than thrilled to again be part of Team USA.”
As an official member of Team USA, Dr. Baron will travel with the athletes to Beijing and stay with Team USA in the Olympic Village. “Each Olympics has been different, and this year COVID-19 will complicate things,” he said. “Only Olympic teams and fully-vaccinated Chinese residents will be able to attend the events.”
What is a sports psychiatrist? A sports psychiatrist helps athletes maintain their mental health, effectively manage stress, and serves as a medical doctor treating the individual from the perspective of where that athlete is in his/her professional and personal life cycle.
Dr. Baron, who also serves as WesternU’s Chief Academic Officer, said that for any of WesternU’s health care students who enjoy sports, the discipline of sports medicine is a rewarding experience.
“Thanks to incredible Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, and others, the stigma often associated with mental health issues in sport, especially in the Olympics, is lifting. I’m interested in and encouraged by the increasing global awareness of the importance of mental health in health care,” Baron said.
He added that WesternU’s interdisciplinary approach to educating and training students in multiple health care disciplines, (including physical therapy, dentistry, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, and podiatry in addition to osteopathic medicine), in mental health and behavioral health care can be the perfect launching pad to better appreciate the role of integrated mental health care in treating athletes.
Co-editor of the 2013 textbook, Clinical Sports Psychiatry: An International Perspective, Dr. Baron is finalizing a new book on Sports Psychiatry to come out in spring 2022. He is the former Deputy Clinical Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and was elected chair of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Caucus on Global Mental Health and Psychiatry in 2021. He is the founding Chair of the World Psychiatric Association Exercise and Sports Psychiatry Section, and he serves on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Sports Psychiatrists. Dr. Baron also serves as an advisor to the NFL and IOC.