Everybody Goes Through Something: Talk About It

Mental health is a term used to describe a wide variety of conditions affecting a person’s behavior, emotions and daily life. Every year, millions of people are affected by a condition that can be described as mental illness. The thing about mental health that makes it very tough to diagnose and understand is the stigma surrounding it. This stigma results in people not revealing their struggles or talking about their condition. It’s uncomfortable, exhausting, and it’s hard to express your emotions without feeling weak-minded or feeling like you have something wrong with you. In this piece, I am sharing the stories of two individuals, both successful in their respective fields, who have battled mental illness. I hope hearing their stories helps create an environment where people are more comfortable discussing mental health issues and lessens the stigma.


Recently, NBA superstar for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Love, released an article on “The Players’ Tribune,” a website that allows athletes to tell their story. In the article he discusses his struggle with mental health. Love talks about an incident during the middle of a game when he suffered a panic attack resulting in an evaluation at a mental health clinic. He left the game without explaining to anyone and kept his reason for leaving private. He did not tell anyone because he was worried about the stigma surrounding having a mental health condition. He did not want anyone to know he was struggling internally. He was worried his teammates would not understand and view him as unreliable. Eventually, Love sought out a therapist and began talking about what was happening in his life and his past that contributed to his panic attack. He discovered he had several underlying issues that caused him pain, which he never addressed. He held it in because he felt forced by the stigma of expressing emotions and feelings as being weak. Love’s article in “The Players’ Tribune” created a powerful movement of athletes revealing their struggles with mental health. Everyone goes through things mentally and seeing famous athletes coming out and discussing their personal struggles is a big step in the right direction for ending this stigma.


In 2015, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson shared a personal story of his battle with depression on Oprah’s Master Class, Oprah Winfrey’s personal network show. When Dwayne Johnson was 23 years old, he was cut from a professional football team and left without a career path. He fell into a deep depression because he felt hopeless. He states in this interview, “I found with depression, one of the most important things you can realize is that you are not alone. You are not the first person to go through it and you will not be the last to go through it.” When you fall into depression, you often feel alone. Dwayne Johnson mentions that he wishes he could have had somebody pull him aside and let him know that everything is going to be okay. Personally, the most powerful part of the interview is when he says, “Just remember to hold on to the fundamental trait of faith. There is something good on the other side of pain.”


Annually, Young Leaders for Health has an event, the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge on eHealth. It brings students and young professionals from across the world together to compete in developing eHealth tools to tackle public health issues. A major issue Young Leaders for Health focuses on is non-communicable diseases. The theme for the upcoming Young Leaders for Health Social Entrepreneurship Challenge on eHealth (date to be determined) will be mental health. It is a topic that we at Young Leaders for Health are passionate about and want to make a difference for people struggling with this non-communicable disease. If you are passionate about enabling more people to have access to affordable high quality health care services, which entails being able to seek support by mental health professional, reach out and we would love to have a conversation.

And if you are suffering with mental health, try and talk to someone. And to those who have been sought out for help, try to listen. The stigma surrounding mental health will only be shattered when we normalize the discussions surrounding them. In the words of Kevin Love, “So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through. Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do.”


Joe Osborn Young Leaders for Health



References


Love, K., 2018. Everyone is Going Through Something. Available at: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/kevin-love-everyone-is-going-through-something [Accessed August 17, 2019].

Johnson, D., 2015. How a Bout of Depression Led to Dwayne Johnson's Career-Defining Moment Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_T9Jg0U2DA [Accessed August 17, 2019].

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