During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we have been speaking to a number of sports professionals and athletes. Here we spoke with PSN Advisory Board member, Andre Collins, Executive Director of the Professional Athletes Foundation at the NFLPA.
How have the lockdowns in the US impacted your mental health?
Generally speaking, it has been tough at times. Early in the lockdown, things were fun, a chance to take a real break from the regular routine…but as time wore on I started to question purpose and productivity. I started to notice myself more, and that wasn’t always good. Looking a little fat and tired…
What have you been able to do to support your own mental health?
Exercise has sustained me. Walking. Jogging. Yoga. Weights. Also heavy doses of Netflix to escape reality.
What changes have you had to make to your lifestyle since the onset of COVID, that has taken away from your regular day-to-day?
Exercising at home, but that has been a good change. My wife has gone back to work so staying home with kids and managing the home during the day is new for me.
How have you been able to support the mental health of those associated with the NFLPA?
We’ve really tried to emphasise being aware of mood. We’ve hosted webinars where players can come on and share and chat with each other; sometimes without much of an agenda. We’ve also offered free virtual counselling sessions for all players active and former. The counselling program has been very busy. We also have a 24 hour ‘get help’ hotline for players.
What difference can the NFL make to people’s mental health, whether fans or the players involved?
I think using our players’ celebrity to communicate “that it’s ok to not always feel ok or normal…and to pay attention to your mood changes.” If American footballers can seek help then it’s ok for you to seek help too. We’ve been very active on all of our social media channels.
Is there more that the NFL can do to support mental health?
We can always do more. But I am pleased with our progress. We must continue to engage the social media influencers to help us solidify our messaging with our young audience and future fans
Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from 10 to 16 May and we have spoken to a number of professionals across the sports industry about their mental wellbeing. To find out more about the services Premier Sports Network and our charity partner Beder provide to help promote positive mental health across the world of sport, please email firstname.lastname@example.org