“The things that were in place at Ohio State definitely saved my life.”
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and former offensive lineman Harry Miller discussed the importance of mental health and the emotional and physical challenges they’ve faced in their lives during a feature on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Sunday morning.
Day, who is entering his fifth season at the helm of the Buckeyes, lost his father to suicide when he was just 8 years old but kept his feelings deep inside until a recruiting trip in 2018 to a school that had just experienced its seventh suicide that year forced him to confront his pain.
“I just remember him saying to me over the phone, ‘This has to stop. We have to get ahead of this thing. This is a crisis,’” Day’s wife, Christina Day, said.
The Days subsequently partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to launch the Christina and Ryan Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Awareness to help raise awareness, increase educational opportunities and inspire advocacy for mental wellness.
The Buckeyes also added four full-time mental health professionals to their football staff, including two psychologists and two athletic counselors.
“I knew it was important the day he stopped practice during training camp to introduce us,” Dr. Candice Williams said.
Williams then played a critical role in Miller’s life after he approached Day in the days leading up to the 2021 season and shared that he was having suicidal thoughts, something he’s dealt with since he was 8 years old, as well.
“I just thought, ‘Well, this must be how everyone thinks.’ If I had a gun, I probably wouldn’t be here,” said Miller, who admitted to drawing blood on his arms and neck with a box cutter he used for engineering projects. “I’m very grateful that I did not cut myself deep enough to where it was impossible to recover.”
Miller explained how it was easier to discuss his feelings with Day because Ohio State’s head coach has been open about his own experiences.
“That equipped him with the ability to respond quickly and to not be shy about it, to not be confused about it, to not be dismissive about it,” said Miller, who announced his medical retirement back in March. “Sometimes, it is the matter of life and death. The structure of having a coach like Coach Day, who’s receptive, and having a staff like the mental health staff and the things that were in place at Ohio State definitely saved my life.”
To which Day added, “I do think, as a leader, when you show vulnerability, then you connect with everyone and you show that is OK. If I’m sharing my story and willing to share some personal thoughts, then maybe they’ll be more willing to do so.”
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Source : Sports Illustrated