Although athletes today have worldwide fame, fortune, and more success than most people dream of, their lives are far from easy. They constantly fight a hidden opponent that’s a far tougher foe than any in their sport: mental health.
Mental illness is no joke. According to estimates by the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 44 million Americans reported experiencing some form of mental illness in 2015. That’s nearly one in five people over 18 years old.
Especially in professional sports, injuries, competitive failure and overtraining often lead to immense psychological distress, which is the primary causal factor in mental illness development.
Through my work, I aim to highlight individual athletes who have well-documented struggles with mental illness and to help create a better understanding of the burdens they bear. In the wake of his recent Hall of Fame induction, I will profile former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens’ documented struggles with mental illness.