NFL Legend Opens Up About His Struggles With Depression In Somber Article

David Hookstead | Reporter



NFL legend Steve Smith recently published an incredible article outlining his battle with mental health.

I rarely say things are something that everybody should read, but there’s no doubt in my mind at all this piece from the former Carolina Panthers star is must-read content.

Smith wrote in part:

I’ve learned through hours and hours of counseling — and am still learning — so much about the battle I fight within. I find myself, as an extreme introvert defined by my counselor, looking for excuses on how to avoid large crowds and retreating during public appearances, big events and even family gatherings. Being in public is a constant struggle, not because I don’t want to attract attention or think I’m “important,” but because of my inner battle.

This is all proof that I still face my demons often, but I’m gradually learning how to cope with them. How to understand them. And one thing has become abundantly clear: The best thing I ever did for my well-being was to seek help. I needed someone to help me comprehend how my mind deals with disappointment, grief, failure, etc. — and, most importantly, how to prohibit that critical voice inside my head from defining who I am on an everyday basis.

My advice to anyone suffering from mental health issues — and specifically athletes who can relate — is this: Ask for help. Stop trying to deal with these serious matters alone. You’re not alone. Believe me.

I would encourage everybody to read the whole thing, but I thought the blocked part above was the most important.

We’ve seen far too many athletes struggle with mental health problems, and just not ever seek help. This appears to especially be a problem with football players. I’m not sure if you can chalk it up to the violence of the game, head injuries or the type of people drawn to football. Maybe we’ll never know.

What I do know is that I hate seeing stories about players doing something incredibly stupid instead of seeking the necessary help. It wasn’t that long ago when we were all shocked to hear that Washington State Cougars quarterback Tyler Hilinski had committed suicide. (RELATED: WASHINGTON STATE QUARTERBACK FOUND DEAD AFTER APPARENT SUICIDE)

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 29: Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on prior to the start of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/ Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 29: Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on prior to the start of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/ Getty Images)

Smith is, without a doubt, one of the most famous athletes to ever be so open about struggling with mental health. We need more people to speak up, especially people with a platform. We see far too many stories about athletes not seeking the necessary help, and it almost ends tragically.

In a four-month span, the NHL saw three current or former players kill themselves. That’s just a mind-boggling stat, and it’s something we should avoid at all costs.

Shoutout to Smith for using his voice to let people who are struggling know that it’s okay to get help. More athletes should take a page from his book.

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