Words Matter

By Susie Adams

In August, we highlighted Brian Dawkin’s NFL Hall of Fame speech where he spoke candidly and passionately about his own struggles with depression. He opened dialogue about something that we don’t often talk about. Especially big, strong athletes.

Steve Smith, Ron Rivera & Brian DawkinsWithin days former Carolina Panther Steve Smith, published an essay about his own struggles with depression.

Mental Health Is Important

In a Charlotte Observer story about the Smith essay, Panthers coach, Ron Rivera said, “(Mental health) is something that I think we as coaches need to understand a little bit more,” he said.

“Because we don’t know. We come from the same background as (the players), of trying to push through, push through, push through.”

“And when a guy has to deal with that and he keeps it bottled up, bad things might happen. For somebody like Steve to come out and say ‘I dealt with this as a player’ and probably growing up, for me, that’s an (eye-opening) moment.”

Then, in September, the Panthers announced that they had hired a director of player wellness, one of the first in-house psychological clinicians in the NFL.

Pay It Forward

Dawkins’ authentic moment led to another authentic moment and an organization took an important step to address the mental health challenges that their players and coaches face. Thank you, Brian Dawkins.

Words matter.
Words make a difference.
Words create change.

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