INDIANAPOLIS– The Indianapolis Colts are spotlighting mental health issues to let people know they aren’t alone.
The initiative is raising money for resources and hosting events to show the public that many people deal with mental health issues and it’s OK to seek help.
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Through this campaign, NFL members have taken part in roundtables to discuss mental health. Colts members have shared their personal testimonies of dealing with things.
Thursday, a special Colts-only roundtable was released to discuss the issues. The Colts’ Director of Player Engagement David Thornton as well as players Kenny Moore and Zaire Franklin took part in the round table. The Colts’ team counselor was also there to talk about the importance of mental health.
All in an effort to remove the hesitancy to reach out if you need help.
Thornton played in the NFL for 9 seasons and is a former colt, his job now is to support the players on and off the field. He says players understand that they are role models to the community.
“I think they are really understanding the importance of spotlighting and being vulnerable enough to share why it’s important to understand that you’re not alone, and why it’s important to know that hey you can reach out and get support and the help you need when you’re dealing with whatever the test may be in your life,” Thornton said.
Shauna Campbell, program manager at IU Health Behavioral Health Collaborative, has been working with the Colts on this. She says there has been an increase of people struggling with mental health issues due to the pandemic, and community leaders need to step up like the Colts to shine a light on the issue.
“Our community really looks up to these individuals on the Indianapolis Colts. They do so much good in the community aside from winning football games. And so it’s really wonderful to have that partnership and to have that visibility in the community showing that these organizations do care about people,” Campbell said.
Campbell says they are hoping that the work the colts are doing creates a domino effect and others will also speak out to help end the stigma of getting help if you need it.
“I think anytime you shine a light on a problem, it brings awareness and it brings, allows people to really hone in on the problem and seek solutions,” Campbell said.
Lisa Hutcheson, vice president of prevention and advocacy with Mental Health America of Indiana, said having members of the Colts share their personal struggles is a great example of how you can still be a productive, even famous, person and still get help with your mental health.
“I think the last year has thrown us all for a loop,” said Hutcheson. “So it’s completely normal to have those days where you just don’t feel like doing anything, but if those days turn into weeks or months and it really impacts your ability to take care of yourself or your family or to go to your job, then it’s something you should be more concerned about.”
Hutcheson said changes in your eating and sleeping habits could be signs of deeper depression. She said once you realize things have gone beyond your control, you can talk to friends and family before taking the leap to talk to a professional
“Your friends and family are great to kind of share that initial burden, but most of us don’t have clinicians in our family, so it is good to take that next step and talk to someone who really knows what you’re going through,” Hutcheson said.
Hutcheson said clinical psychologists or psychiatrists can offer specialized plans specific to an individual’s needs. For more information on the programs MHAI provides, click here.
“It’s only a stigma if we further stigmatize it,” Hutcheson said. “Talking about it really is the only way that that stigma will go away.”