Seahawks Launches Mental Health Issues Program

According to his own account, Sidney Jones IV didn’t have to face much adversity for most of his life leading up to his final year at the University of Washington, and this was especially true when it came to football.

Having become a standout player on the successful West Covina High School team, Jones becoming a rookie player for three years and eventually one of the nation’s best quarterbacks with huskies, he seemed like a potential first-round pick when he decided to give up his playing. Graduation season for the 2017 project.

But then Jones’ football career took a dramatic turn when he tore his Achilles tendon during Pro Day in Washington, an injury that landed him in the second round of enlistment. Jones missed nearly his entire rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles, and then over the next two seasons, he struggled to earn consistent playing time, in part due to more injuries. Jones was eventually cut by the team that drafted him, and later was replaced away by his second team, Jacksonville, in the sixth round.

Those struggles on the field transport Jones into a dark place, which leads him to battle depression and anxiety. It took some time, but Jones eventually found help in the form of a therapist, a decision that helped improve his quality of life and his playing on the court. That trip is why when the Seahawks wore custom sneakers for last season’s My Cause, My Cleats, Jones proudly wore a pair of pink shoes with the name and logo of Mental Health America, a non-profit organization dedicated to meeting the needs of those. Living with mental illness and promoting general mental health for all.

This is also why Jones is encouraged by the launch of the Seahawks’ new mental health program, Mental Health Matters.

“It’s really important to me because it’s something I’ve been through personally,” said Jones, who joined the Seahawks via trade with Jacksonville before the start of last season. “Growing up, I didn’t really have a lot of ordeals, and I didn’t have a lot of hardships. It was kind of the easy way out – good at football, everything was up and up. Then I had an Achilles injury before enlistment, which was a huge shock to me. The surgery. The first, first major injury, and it took me some dark times. I tried to stay positive about it but I had a moment where I didn’t feel like myself and it was weighing me down. I didn’t realize I needed help until maybe two years down the road, And I never had a chance to talk about it. But in getting out of that, getting out of that dark space, getting some help, I talked to a therapist and figured out a way.”

Mental Health Matters is a program that will focus on destigmatizing, normalizing, and encouraging conversations about mental health. The Seahawks will partner with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to provide resources and steps for getting help, providing warning signs of mental illness and what to do when they are present, including steps to get appropriate help.

“If you are going through tough times and trauma, you need someone to talk to, and you need a support system,” Jones said. “Some people have different support systems—family, friends, therapists—and I happen to be a therapist who helped me, and my wife, she was there throughout this process with me. It has been a good journey just learning about mental health, learning its importance, because those dark days you sometimes face, and there are always A brighter side by talking about it and having a support system, talking out loud about it and not being in your own box, I feel like I helped the process get back to where I was.”

Reclaiming who had helped Jones enjoy the best season of his career with the Seahawks in 2021, achieving his career highs in games played (16), starts (11), defensive passes (10) and tackles (66). He also believes that being mentally healthier helped him stay healthy from a physical point of view.

“My mental health was recovering from the injuries,” he said. “I feel anxiety and depression manifest in my body, and you need your body to perform. Everything is connected, my mind was not right, it was showing up in my profession. Just make sure the mind is healthy, because the mind controls everything. So it is very important to spread awareness so that everyone gets On a chance to be the best version of themselves.”

A big part of mental health, especially when it comes to NFL players, is creating an environment in which players know that it’s OK to acknowledge that they might need help and that it’s OK to ask for that help. As former Seahawks player Bobby Wagner said last year when discussing mental health, “It’s okay not to feel unwell, and it’s okay to find someone to help you through the process.”

For Jones, three years of therapy, plus the support of his wife, has helped him get to a better place, and now he’s willing to open up about his struggles so others can, whether it’s a teammate or just a footballer. A fan who has heard his story, knows that they can also seek help they may need.

“This is very important,” Jones said. “I think just talking and opening up, being vulnerable to someone — you can put your introduction ahead of everyone else, but you have to find that person that is a safe place for you, because we all deal with things, it’s just how we deal with them.”

With 1 in 5 adults in the United States affected by a mental illness, including 17 percent of young adults ages 6 to 17, and with 50 percent of lifelong mental illness beginning at age 14, Mental Health Issues will focus on Young people and the black community.

“The more we can raise awareness and the more people talk about it, it lets non-athletes know that, no matter where you are in whatever aspect of life you’re going to be dealing with,” receiver Tyler Lockett said. Safe.”

Lockett has been a vocal advocate of debates about mental health, bringing up his struggles with anxiety and depression at press conferences in recent years, and also addressing those struggles through his poetry. Lockett sees a world in which people present a sterile version of their lives on social media and worries that people are afraid to admit that everything is not perfect in their world.

“We don’t normalize that we make mistakes, we don’t normalize that we lose matches, we don’t normal that life happens and experiences happen, and because of that we have this perception in our heads that everything has to go a certain way – you have to be successful at 20, you’re not supposed to Life looks and feels like this.” “Whenever we can naturally make life look different for everyone, we can allow people to really sit down with their mental health instead of looking at all the highlights on social media, looking at everything is going right for someone because we don’t see what isn’t right. .

“A lot of times people go through things behind closed doors and you never really know their battles. We carry it with us because we think we’re the only ones… and that makes it harder and harder to be vulnerable in today’s world, because we don’t appreciate vulnerability until someone commits suicide or even does Someone is doing something themselves in such a way that they are crying out for help.”

For Lockett, the goal of sharing his mental health struggles is to create a safe environment where people feel more comfortable being vulnerable.

“Not everyone is able to do this because they don’t have safe places, they may not be able to pay for treatment, they may be able at night to seek the help they need,” he said. “We just have to normalize a lot of things instead of making such a big old thing that we think it’s supposed to be, because that doesn’t allow you to be complacent, it just makes you want to keep chasing.”

Warning signs of mental illness:

  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  • Attempting or planning to harm or end one’s life
  • Extreme, out of control, and risky behavior that causes harm to oneself or others
  • A sudden, overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart, physical discomfort, or difficulty breathing
  • Significant weight loss or gain

Do you worry about yourself or someone you care about?

  • If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to ask questions
  • Try to understand what they are going through and how their daily lives are affected
  • Making this contact is often the first step to getting treatment
  • Talk to a healthcare professional
  • Learn more about mental illness
  • Take a mental health education class
  • Join a support group
  • Call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-NAMI (6264)