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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Understanding Suicide Among Men Why More Men Take Their Own Lives

Men and Suicide (2)

James Donaldson notes: I am turning more and more of my time and efforts towards mental health issues, especially pertaining to our young people and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle 

 

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of men who elect to end their own lives prematurely through suicide. Over 41,000 people die by suicide each year in the U.S. and suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for all U.S. men, according to National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. But there is hope. Here are some important things to understand about suicide among men and what you can do if you are a loved one are having hopeless feelings or having thoughts about suicide.

Statistics

Young men and older men are particularly vulnerable groups. The suicide rate peaks in men between the ages of 20 to 24, which, if isolated from the general statistics on suicide, places suicide as the third-ranking cause of death. Older people suffer from the loss of loved ones and friends and can feel isolated, ignored, valueless, or overly dependent on others.

Risk Factors

Not every attempt at suicide results in completion, although unsuccessful first attempts are often followed by successful second attempts. The most common risk factors are:

  • Using drugs and/or alcohol to help cope with emotions, relationships, the pressure of work or other issues
  • Social isolation or living alone
  • Not being able to form or sustain meaningful relationships
  • Divorce or relationship breakdowns
  • A history of physical and sexual abuse
  • Imprisonment
  • Being bullied at school, college or work
  • Unemployment
  • Loss of a loved one through trauma or disease
  • Mental illness, particularly where this is related to depression and painful or debilitating illnesses or conditions

In older men, suicide is most strongly associated with depression, physical pain and illness, living alone, and feelings of hopelessness and guilt.

Preventing Suicide

Not all suicide attempts succeed and many people who set out with the clear intention of ending their own lives find that with good emotional and practical support they are able to adjust their circumstances to live a complete and fruitful life. The warning signs listed above do not inevitably lead to suicide attempts.

However, people who feel suicidal often report a certain kind of tunnel vision, of being unable to see the broader picture and thinking only in terms of black and white. In such circumstances, that individual may not be motivated to seek out help for themselves, and it often falls on others to offer support by listening, offering encouragement and sometimes even challenging the preconceptions that people hold about themselves such as their abilities and their worth to society.

Getting Help

Getting help for people expressing suicidal intent or showing the warning signs is incredibly important. Help is available from a number of different sources, including family doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, voluntary organizations, community mental health centers, local hospitals or social agencies.

If you believe someone is in imminent danger, call 911 and do not leave them alone. And if you are struggling personally, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free and confidential service available to all people 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-TALK.

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Exercise, Not Prozac, Beat My Depression; Two Years Ago Sheryl Crow Was Poleaxed by Doubts and Fears. Now, Having Turned 40, She Tells How She Escaped the Horrors of Her Darkest Days

Sheryl_Crow_-_November_2014_(cropped)

James Donaldson notes: I am turning more and more of my time and efforts towards mental health issues, especially pertaining to our young people and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

But, here we are with a story of one of the most beloved entertainers of our time, Sheryl Crow, and she shares what she was going through with depression and anxiety.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle 

Article Excerpt

Byline: DAMON SYSON

BY rights, the 42-year-old woman sitting opposite me should feel on top of the world. She’s beautiful, sexy, and has a figure most women would kill for. Her talent as a singer-songwriter is beyond doubt: since her breakthrough hit All I Wanna Do in 1993 she’s sold 20 million albums and picked up eight Grammys.

And yet, here is Sheryl Crow openly admitting something that few in her profession dare to – for many years she has struggled in a debilitating battle against depression, the most recent bout of which left her practically bedridden for six months.

Two years ago, while recording her fifth album, C’mon C’mon, she experienced what she describes as an emotional “crash”. Not only was she suffering a creative block – wondering where music would fit into her life, and where she could fit into the youth-obsessed business – but she was dreading the prospect of turning 40, childless and alone.

Today, it’s hard to imagine her laid low with what Winston Churchill so memorably described as “black dog”.

When we meet, in a suite at the Covent Garden Hotel, she’s all sunshine smiles and easygoing banter. She seems confident and at peace with herself – nothing like the woman of two years ago, poleaxed by doubts and fears.

“It’s been a spectacular couple of years,” she says. “Probably my happiest.

I never would have thought that back then, when I was too tearful to even step out of thesheryl_crow_meijer_gardens_2014-17 house.” By all accounts, she wandered around her home in LA in a dreamlike state, having shut herself off from family and friends.

Medically diagnosed with the depression that has recurred several times during her life, she embarked on a course of therapy twinned with Prozac, though she soon replaced the medication with a strict fitness and meditation regime.

“During some of those darkest days, I’d hardly get out of bed and just let the phone ring and ring. Small problems became insurmountable and so I shied away from normal behavior. It seemed easier to duck out of life that way.

Depression messed with my sleep in such a way that it was a very bizarre, exhausting and dark time.

“But, in a way, I think what I went through back then was very valid.

Turning 40 is a period of your life when you suffer a sense of loss over things you’ve never had and you yearn for the innocence of youth.

Also, as you get older, and your parents get older, the fear sets in of losing people – you’re watching people pass away. You start thinking about your own mortality, about what’s important in life, you take stock. It’s a heavy period that probably everybody goes through.”

Is this “sense of loss over things you’ve never had” a reference to never having had children? “Yes, it definitely was at that point. I think that 40 has always sort of represented to women the end of childbearing years, which certainly it doesn’t now.

Women are having kids into their fifties.”

The feelings of hopelessness which Crow describes as her “melancholy” are far from unusual.

One in four people is affected by stress, anxiety, and depression.

“Clinical” or “major” depression is the world’s number- one mental disorder and is growing at an alarming rate. The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020 it will be the second biggest cause of disability in the developed world.

“For me,” continues Crow, ” depression was linked to my nerves – I was full of trepidation about what was lying ahead in life and this was compounded by medical problems too personal to go into – female stuff – but I’m over that now.

Article Excerpt

If you’re interested in the work that I’m doing in regards to creating greater awareness pertaining to mental health issues, especially among our young people, please sign up with your name and email address below, and I’ll keep you in the loop. Click Here!

Speak Up to Prevent Suicide

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Ending the Stigma Around Mental Health

Wenatchee School DistrictJames Donaldson notes: I am turning more and more of my time and efforts towards mental health issues, especially pertaining to our young people and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

By Daniel Cruse — 

Talking about any sort of mental health or mentioning suicide carries a stigma that makes it very difficult for some people to feel comfortable opening up about them. U of L’s Mental and Physical Health Committee aims to change that on our campus.

The committee hosted #EndTheStigma on Sept. 19 in the SAC Ballroom.

“The purpose of the event is to contemplate and discuss the stigmas surrounding mental health and suicide while also celebrating life and being hopeful about helping others,” said Jaison Gardner, a co-host for the event, alongside Pan-African Studies professor Kaila Story.

Suicide is an epidemic that for many people goes largely unaddressed.

“Suicide rates have doubled in the last ten years, and this is especially the case for our demographic of college-aged Americans,” event organizer Bayley Amburgey said.

The event opened up the floor for planned speakers, musical performances and a workshop to encourage people sharing their stories and lifting up their fellow Cardinal students.

The Cardinals for the Appreciation of Musical Theatre performed a medley from the musical Spring Awakening as well as a song from last year’s “Dear Evan Hansen.” Both shows deal with suicide and mental health.

Local R&B singer Delmar James also came to perform his single “Seasons,” which also dealt with similar themes.

A storytelling workshop and a brief activity allowed the attendees to look for ways to lift each other up on campus.

Depression, one of the most common mental health disorders, is also one of the most overlooked. Events like #EndTheStigma are uplifting for young people who live with mental health disorders as they put a spotlight on continuously having genuine, open discussions.

“It was very eye-opening and I hope that I can help lift people up who may be struggling with these issues,” freshman Caroline Dew said.

Graphic by Arry Schofield / The Louisville Cardinal

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Suicidal Thoughts Are More Common Than You Might Think: How Workplaces Can Help Reduce The Stigma

Workplace Mental Health

 

After about a month of being virtually nonfunctional and unrecognizable from my normal high-performing self, I wanted everything to end. Not because I didn’t want to live, but because I didn’t want to live like that. My mind was my most prized possession. I was hollow—unable to feel much of anything, make basic decisions or craft even simple emails, much less do what was required of me at work. This was not me. I was proactively seeking help and following my regimen of therapy and medication. In a move that was completely out of character, I even tried hypnosis upon my psychiatrist’s last-ditch suggestion since all other efforts continued to fail.

I didn’t know anyone who had gone through something like this and come out of it, particularly a successful professional. Nothing was making me better, and I had run out of hope. Suicidal thoughts consumed me. Fortunately, I found the right medicine and mastered the skills I learned in therapy, allowing me to return to work and thrive, but it took much longer than I would have liked. Not everyone is so lucky.

Each September we recognize Suicide Prevention Month, but this year, it seems to have a different resonance, given the high-profile tragedies this summer, when we lost Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade—celebrities, but also powerful business leaders. If I hadn’t experienced serious suicidal thoughts myself, I would have thought they were outliers. In fact, 123 Americans die by suicide every day, resulting in 44,965 deaths each year. We just don’t hear about them since they aren’t famous. Those statistics don’t even take into account the many more Americans who experience suicidal thoughts—4% of adults in 2016 and 8.8% of adults ages 18 to 25. The rates of both suicide and suicidal thoughts are rising.

So why does this matter for workplaces? Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. for adults ages 25 to 34 and the fourth among adults 35 to 54. In other words, those in their prime working years. Work-related factors such as difficult working conditions and unemployment can increase the risk for suicide

Workplaces can do their part to help their employees by creating healthy environments and reducing the stigma around mental health. Over 90% of people who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition (as determined by autopsies), but many were not diagnosed. I, unfortunately, am a bit of an anomaly in my willingness to both get diagnosed and get help for my generalized anxiety disorder. Even though the right treatment is highly effective, 80% of employees don’t seek it because of fear and shame.

Both times that my typically well-managed anxiety disorder sent me into a major depression, challenges related to work were major contributors. Back then, I hadn’t yet found the right mix of medicine and therapy to handle them. This initially happened when I was 22. I had been deferred indefinitely from my first job out of college because the economy was tanking. Rumination and uncontrollable negative thinking took over, making me believe I would never get a comparable job in management consulting. To everyone around me, this was irrational, since I had just graduated Phi Beta Kappa. To me, though, it felt very real. The job finally came through, but only after sending me into a tailspin.

This is not to say that people with underlying mental health conditions can’t be successful at work. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. Neither should they necessarily lower their expectations and find low-stress jobs, as a therapist suggested to me during that episode when I was 22 and full of ambition. The idea of someone telling me that I couldn’t do something enraged me so much that a glimmer of my normal self-emerged, ironically partly helping to fuel my recovery. If I had listened to that therapist, I would have missed out on a rewarding career.

Employers must not only provide mental health benefits but also build cultures that normalize what it looks like to have a mental health condition. This can be achieved through education about its prevalence and trainings on how to navigate mental health at work, such as strategies for effective communication and building healthy teams. In addition, having leaders talk about mental health challenges—whether their own or those of family or friends—and simply showing vulnerability, in general, can go a long way. That helps to foster a culture of trust and make others feel comfortable if and when they encounter their own struggles.

I’ve been “out” about my mental health condition since 2016 when I decided to found MindShare Partners, a workplace mental health nonprofit. Despite that, this is the first time that I’ve publicly discussed the suicidal thoughts that overwhelmed me twice in my life. Most of my friends still don’t know that level of detail. Suicide and suicidal thoughts feel like taboo topics, even to me. Although I now work in the mental health field, I’ve noticed that my peers still tiptoe around suicide, avoiding disclosing their own lived experiences with it, even while sharing their diagnoses. It remains the ultimate stigma, invoking fear, misunderstanding, and shame.

Let’s do our part to change that at work so our friends and colleagues know they’re not alone.

 

I’m the founder and CEO of MindShare Partners, a nonprofit that is changing the culture of workplace mental health so that both employees and organizations can thrive. We do this through awareness, peer groups for working professionals, and corporate workshops.

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Mental Illness in Childhood a Strong Predictor of Troubles in Adulthood

Teen PhotosJames Donaldson notes: I am turning more and more of my time and efforts towards mental health issues, especially pertaining to our young people and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle  

 

Children and teens who experience mental illness are at increased risk for adverse mental health and social outcomes as adults, a study by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) at the University of Manitoba shows.

Being diagnosed with a mental illness before the age of 18, the study found, increases the likelihood of adverse experiences in adulthood, including suicidal behavior, not graduating from high school, requiring income assistance and being involved with the justice system.

“Other childhood factors, such as income and family structure, explain some of the association between childhood mental illness and adult difficulties, but the risk remained strong even after adjusting for those factors,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Mariette Chartier, assistant professor of community health sciences at the Max Rady College of Medicine in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Our findings indicate that childhood mental illness puts kids at significant risk for ongoing challenges later in life. When a child has an illness such as anxiety, depression or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it is likely to cloud their adult life.

“This strongly highlights the need for mental illness prevention and improved mental health services for this age group.”

MCHP conducted the study, “Mental Illness Among Adult Manitobans, for Manitoba Health” to assist it in developing Manitoba’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. Chartier’s team used the Manitoba Population Research Data Repository, which is housed at MCHP and allows researchers to trace individuals’ interactions with the health, social service, education, and justice systems without the individuals being personally identified.

The researchers focused on more than 60,000 Manitobans born between 1980/81 and 1984/85. They analyzed the de-identified data about these children as they grew into their 30s. More than 16 percent of individuals in this cohort were diagnosed with a mental disorder during their childhood or teen years.

Two-thirds of individuals diagnosed as children were still living with the same condition as adults. Manitobans who were hospitalized for attempted  before age 18 were three times more likely to die by suicide and six times more likely to be re-hospitalized for attempted suicide in adulthood.

The study also took a “snapshot” of adult mental illness in Manitoba from 2010/11 to 2014/15, using a database of virtually all Manitobans. In this five-year period, about 28 percent of adults were diagnosed with at least one of the mental illnesses examined in the study.

The most prevalent illnesses were mood and anxiety disorders (a category that includes depression), diagnosed in 23 percent of adults, and substance use disorders, diagnosed in six percent of adults.

The prevalence of mental illness has remained stable since MCHP’s last five-year report in 2004. The suicide rate is also unchanged since the 2004 report.

“The actual prevalence of mental disorders is undoubtedly higher,” Chartier said. “The figure of 28 percent only represents adults who were diagnosed by doctors or nurse practitioners. We don’t have data for people who seek help from professionals such as psychologists and social workers. We also know that many people with mental disorders never seek treatment.”

In both rural and urban regions, the prevalence of mental illness increased as average neighborhood income decreased. The same was true for the rate of suicide attempts.

Compared to the general population, a higher rate of mental illness was found among  living in personal care homes, those receiving income assistance, those living in social housing and those involved in the justice system, either as accused or victims. The study wasn’t able to say which came first – the illness or the life circumstances – only that there is an association between being in these groups and mental illness. Rates of suicide and attempted suicide were also higher in these groups.

The study’s recommendations include:

  • Increase mental health promotion,  prevention, and suicide prevention efforts
  • Strengthen  and improve access to them
  • Develop the mental health skills and knowledge of the workforce, in health care and beyond
  • Address health inequities
  • Support  research
  • Co-ordinate services among government departments, including health, social services, education, and justice

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Why Suicide Is Not Something to Joke About

Good Health is Mental Health

James Donaldson notes: I am turning more and more of my time and efforts towards mental health issues, especially pertaining to our young people and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle 

Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) – September 27, 2018 – 3:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — Mental health advocates strongly condemn the trivializing of suicide, which claims 800,000 lives in a year, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO considers suicide “a serious public health problem,” with data showing someone committing suicide every 40 seconds.

Suicide, mental health problems, and the Philippines

Raymond John Naguit, national chairperson of Youth for Mental Health, slammed controversial blogger Drew Olivar on Wednesday for saying in one of his videos that University of the Philippines students should just kill themselves

“Mental health advocacy groups work so hard to fight the stigma and promote responsible means of reporting mental health,” Naguit said in a Facebook post.

“It is but just to demand that we give the topics suicide and self harm the appropriate seriousness and sobriety they deserve,” Naguit added.

Naguit said Olivar should be made to account for his comments. Olivar, a friend and co-host of Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, has reaped criticism for his lewd ‘pepe-dederalismo‘ video and for mimicking sign language as a joke and is being investigated for making a “bomb joke” on his Facebook page.

He has also made unprintable comments about Vice President Leni Robredo and about President Rodrigo Duterte’s genitals.

Health Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle said last June that there were 2,550 recorded suicide cases in the country. He said that the 20 percent of the calls received over DOH’s Suicide Hopeline are related to depression.

 

Suicide and mental health problems

WHO said that “the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses.”

It added that according to data in 2016, 79 percent of global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

The global organization also said that those experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse or loss and sense of violation “are strongly associated with suicidal behavior.”

Suicide rates are also high in groups of people who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons and prisoners.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

Mental Health Law

The Philippines enacted a Mental Health bill on June 21, 2018 after years of lobbying and of going through the legislative mill.

READ: Advocates hail passage of landmark Mental Health Law

The law assures that those with mental health issues will have “freedom from social, economic and political discrimination and stigmatization, whether committed by public or private sectors.”

The law penalizes “discrimination against a person with a mental health condition” with imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than 2 years, or a fine of P10,000 but not more than P200,000, or both.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/09/27/1855217/why-suicide-not-something-joke-about#P7c1MOYh4C6CRwDU.99

Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com)
September 27, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Mental health advocates strongly condemn the trivializing of suicide, which claims 800,000 lives in a year, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO considers suicide “a serious public health problem,” with data showing someone committing suicide every 40 seconds.

Suicide, mental health problems, and the Philippines

Raymond John Naguit, national chairperson of Youth for Mental Health, slammed controversial blogger Drew Olivar on Wednesday for saying in one of his videos that University of the Philippines students should just kill themselves

“Mental health advocacy groups work so hard to fight the stigma and promote responsible means of reporting mental health,” Naguit said in a Facebook post.

“It is but just to demand that we give the topics suicide and self harm the appropriate seriousness and sobriety they deserve,” Naguit added.

Naguit said Olivar should be made to account for his comments. Olivar, a friend, and co-host of Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson has reaped criticism for his lewd ‘pepe-dederalismo‘ video and for mimicking sign language as a joke and is being investigated for making a “bomb joke” on his Facebook page.

He has also made unprintable comments about Vice President Leni Robredo and about President Rodrigo Duterte’s genitals.

Health Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle said last June that there were 2,550 recorded suicide cases in the country. He said that the 20 percent of the calls received over DOH’s Suicide Hopeline are related to depression.

 

Suicide and mental health problems

WHO said that “the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses.”

It added that according to data in 2016, 79 percent of global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

The global organization also said that those experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse or loss and sense of violation “are strongly associated with suicidal behavior.”

Suicide rates are also high in groups of people who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons and prisoners.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

Mental Health Law

The Philippines enacted a Mental Health bill on June 21, 2018 after years of lobbying and of going through the legislative mill.

READ: Advocates hail passage of landmark Mental Health Law

The law assures that those with mental health issues will have “freedom from social, economic and political discrimination and stigmatization, whether committed by public or private sectors.”

The law penalizes “discrimination against a person with a mental health condition” with imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than 2 years, or a fine of P10,000 but not more than P200,000, or both.

 

September Nation Suicide Prevention Month

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – The Stigma: by Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall and Mental Health

James Donaldson notes: I am turning more and more of my time and efforts towards mental health issues, especially pertaining to our young people and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle  

MAY 31 2017
It was 2011 and I was in a group therapy session at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. It was an informal self-assessment session where you were basically supposed to tell the group about what you were feeling and talk about what had happened to you the day before. We were all sitting in a circle. To my right, there was a young lady with bandages on her arms, and the wraps were soaked in blood. She had tried to harm herself the day before. Another young lady told the group that she had attempted suicide the night before.

I just sat there, in shock.

We worked our way around the room and everybody told their stories. There was an insurance broker, a social worker, a college student — normal, every day, good people. Not all of their stories were as intense as the two young ladies’, but each person was facing similar struggles.

And there I was — this big, macho football player — listening to these people talk about their feelings and not knowing how to react.

This was an outpatient session. When it was over, everybody stood up, walked out to the parking lot and got into their cars. Everybody had just told these hard-core stories about the struggles they were facing, and now, one by one, they were each pulling out of the parking lot and going back into society like everything was O.K.

I remember stopping my car at the edge of the parking lot, watching the other cars pass by on the street and wondering how many of the people in those cars — and how many more in this country — were facing similar issues and suffering in silence. Hundreds of thousands, I thought. Maybe millions.

I decided that I wasn’t going to remain silent. I had the revelation that it was my purpose to help bridge the gap in the mental health community, and football was my platform to accomplish that.

I didn’t just feel like it was my obligation.

I knew, without a doubt, that it was my purpose.

Al Pereira/Getty Images

When I first heard the term “mental health,” the first thing that came to mind was mental toughness. Masking pain. Hiding it. Keeping it inside. That had been embedded in me since I was a kid. Never show weakness. Suck it up. Play through it. Live through it.

Now, I realize that mental health means the total opposite.

I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in 2011, which is why I was in the outpatient program at McLean. I remember the doctors there gave me a pamphlet on BPD, explaining the signs and symptoms, and I started highlighting the things I had been feeling. By the time I was done, the whole damn pamphlet was yellow.

The best way to describe BPD is that it’s an emotional disorder that affects a person’s ability to cope with and control their emotions.

I’ll give you an example.

In 2009, during my last season in Denver, I was depressed. There were days when I would just sit at home in my theater room in the dark in a catatonic state. I never wanted to leave my house, and if I did, I wore a hoodie up over my head because I didn’t want anybody to recognize me. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. At the time, I didn’t know that I was depressed, and I had no idea how to deal with it. So I hid from the world.

I thought that I was trapped in that catatonic state because of my relationship with my coach, Josh McDaniels, and the fact that I was due for a new contract and the Broncos weren’t coming to the table with the deal that I thought I deserved. (Now, looking back, I wouldn’t have given myself a contract either. At least not until I cleaned up my act.)

So when the Broncos traded me to the Dolphins in 2010, and I signed a five-year, $50 million contract — the richest ever for a wide receiver — I thought that everything was going to be O.K. I had the security and stability of a long-term deal. What reason did I have to continue to be miserable?

But my depression followed me to Miami.

Sometimes I would go days without talking to anybody. When my brothers and sister would come to my house, I would say hi to them and then just sit there. They would stare at me like, What’s wrong with you?

I have a beautiful wife, Michi. She’s stunning. Absolutely gorgeous. I’m not saying that to brag. Believe me, I know how incredibly fortunate I am to have her in my life. But there was a time when I couldn’t even look her in the eyes and tell her how much I loved her, or that I thought she was the most beautiful woman alive. I felt all those things, but I couldn’t process them. So instead of showing her or telling her how I felt, I just didn’t say anything at all.

That’s how I was for my entire first year in Miami.

Then, in 2011, I had multiple friends and family members who spoke up and told me that they thought I needed help. So I decided to go to the McLean Hospital and undergo a clinical evaluation.

That’s when I first heard about BPD. When they diagnosed me, I just … exhaled — like the biggest exhale of my life. It was just a huge relief.

I was like, O.K. Now I know what this is.

The next step was to treat it.

Back when I was in Denver, people knew me as a guy who caught a lot of balls, and who also got into a lot of trouble. On the field, I was a Pro Bowl receiver. But off the field, my life was spiraling out of control. I made a lot of headlines for the wrong reasons. Today, I really don’t talk about that stuff very much. I don’t hide from it, because it’s a part of my story. I just don’t focus on it because I don’t find that to be productive. My life is about today and how I can help people moving forward.

So if you want to get into stuff that happened years ago — the headlines, all the bad stuff — you can Google it. It’s all out there.

The point I want to make is that I’m still the same exact person today that I was back then. I still have the same feelings and emotions.

The only difference is that now, I know how to deal with my emotions the right way.

I spent three months in the outpatient program at McLean, and in my time there, I learned the tools and skills to help me cope with my emotions. I learned different meditation techniques, and I spoke with doctors and counselors about what I was feeling to get a better understanding of where my emotions were coming from and how I could most effectively react and respond to them. I learned to self-regulate. I was able to get to the root of things that had been holding me back for years, and it allowed me to unlock my true potential.

It was extremely difficult, but also very rewarding. It was a phenomenal experience.

Those three months changed my life.

When I was in the McLean parking lot that day, watching the cars go by, I thought that there were probably hundreds of thousands — maybe millions — of people out there suffering in silence.

The number is actually closer to 100 million.

One in five Americans experience a mental illness in a given year. That’s around 65 million people. (If you account for the friends and family members who are indirectly affected, that’s more than 100 million affected by mental illness each year.) And of those experiencing mental illness, nearly 50% don’t seek treatment, either because they don’t know what they’re suffering from or because they don’t know how or where to get help — or even that there is help.

But 30% of those suffering will choose to not seek help because they are concerned about confidentiality and the negative perceptions of others.

The stigma.

Think about it: Suicides and violent crimes make for front page news. When those kinds of things are linked to mental illness, it contributes to the popular perception that people suffering from mental health issues are either a danger to themselves or to others. We mostly hear only about the dark side of mental illness. We rarely hear about people with mental health issues who are nonviolent, or who are suffering in silence. We don’t hear about the person sitting at home, just wishing he could tell his wife that she’s beautiful and that he loves her.

That’s why I’m dedicated to eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health.

I always say that football is my platform, not my purpose. I believe my purpose is to serve as an example for people who are suffering from mental illness — to show them that it’s O.K. to seek help.

Much of that work is done with Project 375, the foundation I started with my wife.

David Becker/WireImage/Getty Images

For anybody who has ever successfully sought and received help for mental illness, they likely had something bigger in their lives that motivated them to get help and get better. Something that saved them.

Michi saved me.

If she hadn’t held me accountable — if she hadn’t loved me, hadn’t shown compassion during my weakest moments, I would have probably lost everything. My football career, my wife … everything.

Now, I’m going into my 12th NFL season, ready to fight for a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. I have two beautiful children and a healthy marriage that I know I wouldn’t have if not for Michi’s unconditional love and support. To me, my wife and my children are my world.

Today, I write in my journal daily and I often speak publicly about BPD and mental health, sharing my story in hopes of giving others the courage to seek the help they need. When I speak, there is one passage from my journal that I often go back to:

My pain and sadness give me my strength.
My strength ruins my mind, body, and soul.
I’ve been trapped all my life.
Not by man or cages
But by my own emotions.
Where I’ve been by traveling inside myself
Can be summed up by one word —
Damn.
Pain manifests itself in peace and growth….
Only when you deal with the root of it the right way.

I wrote that after a two-hour session at McLean with my doctor, Dr. Gunderson. I have changed the wording a bit over time, but the essential meaning of the passage is the same: My emotions had been controlling me, and I was trapped — not by anything external, but by things that were inside me. But I couldn’t be the one to help myself. I needed to seek help.

That’s why I share my story every chance I get.

To give people the courage to seek help.

To raise awareness.

To break the stigma.

Today is the last day of May — the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month. But that doesn’t mean that after today we should stop thinking about mental health and the impact it has on our society. My goal is to continue to raise awareness. The mental health community is basically where cancer and HIV communities were 20 years ago. And look how far they’ve come?

We can get there, too.

We need to accept that mental illness is a disease, and that like any other disease, the research is key to fighting it. We need more robust education in schools. But most of all, we need to break the stigma.

When my NFL career is over, I will have left a legacy on the field — one that hopefully includes a Super Bowl ring. But my most enduring legacy will be my contributions to the mental health community.

And we have a lot of work to do.


Project 375, founded by Brandon and Michi Marshall, is passionately dedicated to eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health by raising awareness, implementing training and improving care for our youth. To learn more, visit project375.org.

Brandon Marshall and Mental Health