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Kevin Love has been accustomed to the spotlight after his many years as a player in the NBA. Last Tuesday, he was placed in the spotlight for a reason unexpected to many. The Players’ Tribune published Love’s story about his first major collision with mental health that took place on November 5th. The media and fans have had positive reactions to Love’s courageous narrative.

Reading his story, I found myself asking questions of my own. The biggest being, “Why is it we make it a priority to keep up to date with our general health care professionals, our physicians and dentists but are ashamed to schedule appointments with a mental health care provider?” Athletes, especially, are conditioned to take care of their bodies to the best of their abilities. Eating as healthy as possible, working out multiple times a day and scheduling time to rest their bodies when they need it. These players are in some of the best physical conditions in the world. Yet Love was struggling to lift his body from the floor of the locker room that day in November.

It was not because of his physical condition he was at a shortness of breath and found himself fearing for his life. It was his mental state. That is enough to scare anyone into taking mental health seriously, but that should not be the breaking point for us.

Love is not the first NBA star to discuss mental health, though he is still one of the pioneers of this movement among these male athletes. His teammate Channing Frye has also discussed his battle with depression. And Love stated Demar Derozan of the Toronto Raptors as his inspiration for finally coming forward with his story.

In an interview with ESPN staff writer Dave McMenamin, LeBron James touched on why so many struggle with this issue stating, “Because we live in a sport or in a world where our whole lives we were always taught ‘Figure it out on your own. Be as strong as you can. Don’t show anybody any weakness.”

These celebrities that we idolize are dealing with the same pressures we face. Family, fatigue, loss and maintaining their public image. While trying to find a balance and normality while living their lives as superstars, the added stress, as we have been witnessing, can become crippling. These men have to overcome the dominant culture that says they must be stoic, hide emotion and fix problems on their own and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. James continues, “As athletes we’re put up on this pedestal, but we go through some of the same problems…We’re all human beings, all of us.”

The transparency in the article is exactly what the mental health field is in need of. He was honest with himself and his community, admitting he did not have all the answers and that maybe he did not understand completely what was going on in his own mind and body. Love would make strides in understanding by seeing a therapist. After putting his mental health on the sideline, he finally put the ball in someone else’s court.

The question asked many times surrounding the issue of mental health is the classic nature vs. nurture. But we realize more each day that the combination of both are needed to complete these stories. Taking into consideration all aspects of health is the only way to increase the stability of our human race.

The walls holding up the stigma around mental health have slowly begun fall. The mental health profession needs tales such as Love’s in order to continue breaking down barriers. The past few years we have started to discard one brick at a time. But these accounts shared will perform more as wrecking ball.

Love may not have anticipated his story making such an impact, but it is evident his story has changed the mentality of his fans and others. People search for those they can relate to, that display characteristics they possess; even the ugly ones. When this happens, when people can make true connections with one another—the possibilities once thought to be improbable can seem closer than ever before.

Hello! My name is Alexia Santiago. I am senior Psychology major at The University of Akron. I am originally from Boardman, OH. I sing and write poetry but what I enjoy most is helping others. I live by three words; Gratitude. Empowerment. Kindness. Our thoughts become reality, I try to keep mine positive. I am excited to share my thoughts with you all!
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