Sep. 29, 2020

Senior, Emily Durr, contributes to article addressing mental health, injuries and other athletes

Senior, Emily Durr, contributes to article addressing mental health, injuries and other athletes

Dallas Cowboys quarterback addresses mental health, inspires other athletes

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Emotions.

We see them during the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but sharing those emotions sometimes makes people uncomfortable.

Emily Durr is a goalie for Seton High School's girls' lacrosse team and on the tennis team. She knows the pain of a season-ending injury. She's torn both of her ACLs.

Now, she's just hoping coronavirus doesn't shut down her season again.

“I felt that lonely feeling that I had when I tore both of my ACLs,” Durr said about her spring lacrosse season.

The false hope of a possible season returning brought up the topic of depression and anxiety in athletes in the last six months.

Then, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott talked about his depression and anxiety during the pandemic regarding his brother's suicide and his mother's battle with cancer.

“I think being a leader is about being genuine and being real,” Prescott said during a press conference. “As I said, if I wouldn't have talked about those things to the people I did, wouldn’t have realized that my friends and a lot more people go through them."

Prescott urged others to talk openly about the difficult topics. Then, sports commentator Skip Bayless said he thought revealing weakness can affect a team's ability to believe in Prescott in tough moments.

“They're all looking at you to be the COO, to be in charge of the football team because of all that, I don't have sympathy for him going public with, 'I got depressed. I suffered depression early in COVID to the point I couldn't even go work out,'” Bayless said while addressing the topic on The Undisputed.

Gerald Warmack oversees more than just football players. He's also the athletic director. He thinks it's powerful to show someone they aren't in it alone.

“The hard part about that is our society, especially dealing with young men, has taught them that emotions is a weakness,” Warmack said. “So, as an adult male, I mean, I try to show vulnerability to them and show them, yeah, you might be struggling with this and I'm struggling with it as well."

That's especially true when it comes from a professional athlete.

“That shows that he's not just a multimillion-dollar person, but he's a human being,” Warmack said. “And until we can start developing empathy for the people in our society who struggle not only physically but mentally, we're going to be in trouble.”

Warmack thinks it helps more young people share their struggle, and he's heard them.

“I took a phone call about a kid who wanted to commit suicide,” Warmack said. “I was the first person he thought of to call."

“I don't think it's a weakness when you share the fact that you're struggling mentally, with your mental health. I actually think it's courage.”

At Seton, they've spent the first 15 minutes of practice talking about their fears with their teammates.

“Which really just brought us closer together,” Durr said. “Then we would burn them so we could completely destroy all the negativity."

Steve Graef knows about the highs and lows of sports.

“First off, just know that it's a real thing,” Graef said, “And one way to manage that is by talking to somebody about it and the process of talking to somebody about it is not a perfect process.”

He was part of Ohio State's 2002 national championship team. Now, he focuses on the well-being of athletes to help them through the Skip Bayless moments of their life.

“It's important to just be mindful that we have a long way to go in the mental health discussion to help people understand we are human beings,” Graef said. “Human beings are going to struggle from time to time. It's not weird. It's not weak. It just is. Let's just get them the resources to sort it out.”

“You can see an injury, whereas when you have a mental health problem, it’s not something you can see, which is really hard for a coach to diagnose,” said Durr.

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