In any given year, one in five Americans will experience a mental illness. Of these people, 30% will choose not to seek help because they are worried about the negative perceptions of others.
This stigma surrounding mental health affects everyone but is especially relevant to men. A national poll found that one-third of boys between the ages of 10-19 years old felt that when they are scared or sad, society expects them to “suck it up” and “be a man.” In an effort to combat this, several male athletes have recently come forward to share their stories with mental illness and stigma in hopes of helping others through the mental health section of the website The Players’ Tribune. This website was created for all sorts of athletes to connect with fans by writing their own blog posts and stories. These specific stories show that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and even the men who are thought to be some of the toughest people in our society have and are affected by it.
Check out a list of some of their mental health stories below, proving that being tough is about how one reacts to their diagnosis and how they work through it:
“Everyone is Going Through Something” by Kevin Love
Kevin Love, center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, discusses how a panic attack in the middle of a basketball game changed his perspective on mental health. With vignettes about growing up and learning how “to be a man” to his first experience with a therapist, Lore concludes that “not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need.”
“The Stigma” by Brandon Marshall
NFL linebacker Brandon Marshall discusses how participating in an outpatient group therapy session at McLean Hospital helped him realize millions of people are suffering with mental illness in silence. While battling his own diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Marshall continues to fight against the stigma of mental illness through the creation of Project 375.
NHL player Corey Hirsch has written two articles discussing his mental health. The first details his experience with OCD before he was diagnosed, how persistent thoughts made him think he was crazy, and how he stopped himself from carrying through on a suicide attempt. The next article discusses the positive reaction he received to his first story, how important it is to get the proper help, and how he believes children need to be educated with basic knowledge about anxiety, depression, OCD and other mental health issues.
What do you think about the website The Players’ Tribune, especially about their section dedicated to mental health? Do you think athletes sharing their stories and using their voices can help reduce stigma, especially male athletes? Do you recognize any of the names or teams listed here or on the site?