WHITE HALL, Ark. – An Arkansas high school basketball coach is hoping to spread the message ‘it’s more than basketball’ as he has recently included mental health as part of his nonprofit. 

Josh Hayes is the head coach of the men’s varsity basketball team at White Hall High School but long before that he started the nonprofit, Professional Development Academy nearly 12 years ago for kids in White Hall and in Little Rock. 

“It is mainly basketball focused however it is more than basketball,” Hayes said. 

Hayes says although for years it’s been focused on teaching youth skills and drills in basketball, when he recently noticed a behavior change among youth, he put mental health to the forefront. 

“What I noticed was that a lot of these young boys were depressed, mad, angry, and misunderstood,” Hayes said. “We now bring in different certificated people coming in rather than guest speakers or different mentors.”

Jordan Rasberry is a senior at White Hall and a part of the basketball team and Hayes’ academy, he says mental health shouldn’t be avoided. 

“Mental Health is very important because if you’re not right mentally you can’t be right physically,” Rasberry said. 

He adds that everyone needs someone in their corner, aside from his family he says that’s also Hayes. 

“He has just always been there for me helping me out every step of the way,” Hayes said.

Hayes believes this change to the academy will help youth from heading down a bad path. 

“If we can spearhead this early and get these kids healthier mentally, I think we can prevent a lot of these issues from happening,” Hayes said.

If you would like your child to participate or would like to learn more about the program you can click here.