It’s that time of year – as we prepare for the big day – the Super Bowl – people are starting to get excited to watch their favorite athletes compete for the greatest title in the exciting sport of football. Who doesn’t love watching their heroes run, punt, pass and tackle their way to victory? It’s one of America’s favorite sports, producing idols for children and adults of all ages. Football players seem invincible! But is it as glamorous as it seems? We think not.
The heroes on the field are strong and powerful, and they seem as if they are indestructible. But in reality, they are just like the rest of us. They experience defeat and a wide range of emotions – in fact, studies show that it has become increasingly more common for football players to suffer from serious depression. Year after year of tackling and "concussions" (which are now often referred to as "brain injuries") are taking their toll on retired football players. They’re not as superhuman as they may seem, and they’re not immune to falling victim to mental illness and depression. Increasingly, concerns are raised about the long-term impact of repeated hits to the head and the direct impact this has on football players’ mental health.
It’s no surprise that this conversation is heating up– over the last few years, a number of professional football players have found themselves victims of depression, and the number of suicides that can be attributed to mental instability following a career in football has increased. It’s a proven fact that our heroes on the field often suffer from a variety of post-retirement challenges – they’re no different than the rest of us. Notably, statistics show that at least one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder – this translates to over 57 million people! This is a staggering number, yet stigma still exists. It’s time to do something about it.
Look around you. Realize that your family, friends, and even your heroes may be suffering from some type of mental illness, and if you are suffering, you are not alone. The good news is that there is help out there! Depression is a treatable illness, and there are people who want to help. In this week of competition leading up to the big game, we know that in the Super Bowl, someone will win, and someone will lose. Fortunately, the real life game is not such a gamble. By seeking help for depression, everyone wins.