All Points North Innovates Mental Health Care for Athletes

On the podcast Recovery x APN, former NFL player Marcus Smith II candidly discusses his journey to recovery. Having spent a lifetime suppressing symptoms of depression, Smith found himself teetering on the brink of suicide. He reveals the circumstances that led him to seek help at All Points North Lodge in Edwards, Colorado, where he learned to unpack his trauma and identity issues. Smith delves into the root causes of his depression and shares the tools he discovered to help him thrive in his ongoing recovery process.

All Points North (APN) is taking a notable approach to mental health treatment by offering a comprehensive continuum of care that combines traditional therapy with cutting-edge neurotechnology and interventional psychiatry techniques. Specifically, APN understands the unique mental health challenges that athletes face both during and after their sports careers. That’s why they offer a specialized athlete track as part of their residential and outpatient mental health treatment programs.

All Points North

As mentioned, the heart of APN’s model is their flagship residential treatment facility, which opened in 2019. The Edwards location provides inpatient mental health programs tailored to specific populations like veterans, healthcare professionals, LGBTQIA+ and, of course, athletes. Patients stay 30 to 45 days receiving specialized group therapy, psychotherapy and other evidence-based treatments. Between sessions, clients can take advantage of amenities like a gym, pool, game room and yoga studio. Upon check out, six weeks of virtual intensive outpatient programming follows.

The athlete track provides an environment for current and retired professional athletes to work through issues like performance anxiety, identity struggles, substance abuse, trauma and the psychological impact of injuries and concussions.

“As men, and as football players, we’re taught to be stoic and courageous,” Smith shares on his nonprofit’s website, “We’re taught to play through pain. But at what cost? We often mask and suppress the dark thoughts we’re thinking, the deep secrets we’re keeping. No more. We have to confront what we’re feeling. We have to talk. We have to be vulnerable.” APN’s Circle of ‘M’ is dedicated to shining a light on the mental health struggles athletes deal with and being an advocate for them.

At APN, the curriculum covers key topics tailored for athletes such as navigating the “bubble” of professional sports, managing anger, processing grief and loss, preventing relapse and building resilience. Clients engage in therapies like mindfulness, emotional regulation skills and relapse prevention planning — all guided by clinicians with deep experience treating elite athletes.

Continuity of care is paramount, with APN operating intensive outpatient therapy clinics across six states — including locations in Denver and Boulder — so patients can seamlessly transition out of residential care. “Our goal is to prevent readmission,” says Kelly Adair, vice president of Plus by APN, the organization’s interventional psychiatry and neurotechnology branch. “If people stay in our continuum about 200 days on average, they get better clinical outcomes.”

What’s most impressive is APN’s commitment to evidence-based, data-driven care. “We’re always tracking patient-reported outcomes,” Adair adds. “As we grow, we can show proof of what works for specific ailments.” This allows them to continuously refine and improve their treatment methods.

All Points North

In addition to evidence-based psychotherapies, the athlete track offers advanced neurotechnology treatments like hyperbaric oxygen therapy for concussion recovery and deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (known as TMS) to stimulate underactive brain areas. This multimodal approach aims to treat the whole person — mind and body.

Since launching the athlete program in 2020, APN has provided specialized care for over 150 professional athletes and their families. The dedicated peer support and comprehensive clinical approach empower athletes like Smith to understand their past, confront current challenges and develop tools for leading a fulfilling life beyond their sports career.