• Athletes: Beyond the Field

    Whenever we attend sports events, we sit for hours watching the exploits of athletes, cheering them on and marveling at their physical skills. To many, professional athletes are heroes living the dream of fame and fortune in the world of sports. Amateur and student athletes also inspire the schools and communities in which they share their talents. Whether athletes or onlookers, sports are a binding experience–a shared challenge that athletes strive to fulfill and fans enthusiastically support.


    But just like every other vocation, an uncounted number of athletes suffer from mental and physical wellness issues.


    Athletes face unique physical and mental challenges, regardless of whether they're sharing their talents in a superdome stadium or a high school football field. Through exhausting training and intensive competition, they push their bodies beyond what many of us can imagine. However, there is an untold story behind every great athlete, every Super Bowl win, and every celebrated victory.


    Due to the intense nature of the environment in which that practice and compete, athletes are often hesitant to share stories of their personal struggles with mental or physical wellness. Whether it's concerns about a heart condition from overtraining, performance-related anxiety, or worries over brain diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, athletes often have a common, untold story that they are hesitant to discuss. Worries about reputation and future career options can often make it difficult for athletes to


    But due in part to some recent high-profile cases, many are beginning to realize the importance of addressing the mental health of athletes and not just their physical condition.


    People from all walks of life suffer from a range of mental illnesses. Roughly 44 million Americans experienced some form of mental illness in 2015 (the most recent year for which numbers are available), according to estimates by the National Institute of Mental Health. That’s nearly one in five people aged 18 or over.


    Athletes may be at increased risk, according to research by Lynette Hughes and Gerard Leavey of the Northern Ireland Association of Mental Health, who found that factors such as injuries, competitive failure and overtraining can lead to psychological distress. An NCAA survey of athletes found over the course of a year that 30% reported feeling depressed while half said they experienced high levels of anxiety.



    *NOTE: The athletes below have publically disclosed their challenges with mental wellness.

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    Terry Bradshaw

    Former pittsburgh steelers quarterback

    Admitted to dealing with anxiety attacks and depression.

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    Willie Burton

    Professional basketball player

    Admitted to dealing with unipolar depression.

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    Barret Robbins

    Former oakland raider

    Received five years probation and orders to be treated for bipolar disorder in relation to charges in 2005.

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    Kendall Gill

    Former nba player for chicago bulls

    Diagnosed with clinical depression.

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    Earl Campbell

    former football professional and president of Earl Campbell Meat Products, Inc.

    Manages panic disorder and documented his life with panic disorder in The Earl Campbell Story: A Football Great’s Battle With Panic Disorder.

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    Wendy Williams

    Former u.s. olympic diver

    Was diagnosed with major depression in 1994 after a spinal injury that forced her to retire.

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    Ricky Williams

    Miami Dolphins running back and Heisman trophy winner

    Diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.

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    John Daly

    Professional pga golfer

    Battled alcoholism, gambling problems and bipolar disorder.

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    Kevin Love

    nba player for the cleveland cavaliers

    Described a panic attack he experienced during a game.

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    Many of the athletes above share one thing in common:


    They're operating outside their BestStressZone™