Many NFL players are also known for being extremely charitable in addition to being superstar athletes and famous celebrities. They often speak out about their support for various causes, using their large social platforms to raise awareness for the ones they are most passionate about.
Mental health is a popular cause that many NFL players have recently been raising awareness about. The CDC estimates that more than 50% of the population will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some point in their life, while 20% of Americans are dealing with it in some form each year. It's obviously a widespread issue and here are five NFL players who have focused on improving the situation around it.
#1 - Adam Thielen
Adam Thielen started the Thielen Foundation during his time as a wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings. The main mission of his foundation is to bring awareness and support to youth mental health.
He had this to say during an appearance on Mind Matters, a show hosted by Carson Daly in association with The Today Show focused on mental health issues:
"I can't explain how important it is to just say, 'Hey, I have some things going on and I need your help.' We're here to help them now."
Thielen believes the same concepts he uses with children in his foundation should also be applied to adults, including NFL players. He stated that speaking up is the most important thing because it's not always easy to tell when someone may be struggling mentally.
#2 - Taylor Lewan
Taylor Lewan recently opened up about his own personal struggles with mental health. This includes during his time recovering from a devastating knee injury during the 2021 NFL offseason with the Tennessee Titans.
He had this to say about his journey when speaking with the media following a team practice:
“You’re making 100 excuses in your head and then you get down, and you’ve got to go unpack all those things. You can’t pretend it didn’t happen. I had to go and talk to a lot of people and figure that stuff out, unpack that stuff. Once we did, I feel a whole lot better. I feel like more like myself than I ever have.”
Lewan encourages everyone to talk about how they're feeling and where their mindset is because it can potentially save lives. He will continue to battle a similar situation to what previously caused him mental distress, as he once again suffered a terrible injury during the 2022 NFL season.
#3 - Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott has been one of the biggest advocates for mental health among NFL players after opening up about his own battle with depression and anxiety. He claimed that the effect the pandemic had on restricting certain aspects of his life complicated the state of his mental health. His brother committing suicide intensified his issues.
He had this to say following a Dallas Cowboys practice:
“Before I can lead, I have to make sure my mind is in the right place to do that and lead people to where they want to be. I think that it’s important to be vulnerable, to be genuine, and to be transparent.”
Prescott continues to be open about his own mental health as he often talks about it in interviews and media appearances. He encourages anyone who may be struggling to speak up about it and seek help.
#4 - Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow is one of the most recent NFL players to openly promote the importance of mental health. The Cincinnati Bengals superstar quarterback recently started The Joe Burrow Foundation, focusing on childhood mental health issues, among other things.
Burrow issued this statement about his foundation:
“I believe that everyone has a responsibility to do good. This foundation allows me and my family to give back .. My mom, a lifetime educator, experiences firsthand the effect of mental health issues on children and their families. We want to make a difference here as well.”
Childhood mental health is a cause that hits home for Joe Burrow, who has mentioned his own struggles with depression and anxiety.
Burrow joined the trending list of NFL players raising awareness for this sensitive and widespread issue.
#5 - Solomon Thomas
Solomon Thomas has been one of the most active advocates for mental health awareness in the entire NFL. He started The Defensive Line Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a prime focus on mental health.
Thomas has this to say about his mission:
"It's a huge personal passion of mine and something that I really want to see stopped in the world. I want to see a better mental health world for our youth, a better mental health world for everyone. To stop suicide and help anyone out there who is struggling and make sure they know they're not alone."
He also made a huge pledge during the 2021 NFL season while playing with the Las Vegas Raiders.
He donated $8,000 per sack to his foundation during the 2021 NFL season. He recorded 3.5 total sacks that year.