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Black Athletes Breaking Barriers and Embracing Mental Health: DeMar DeRozan

As we celebrate Black History Month, we want to highlight DeMar DeRozan for his openness about his mental health journey.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we want to highlight incredible Black athletes who’ve made their mark with their skills and their honesty about their lives and mental health journeys.

These athletes, from different sports, are open about who they truly are, showing their strengths and challenges. Their stories teach us important lessons.

They remind us that life can be tough for anyone, no matter who you are. It’s okay not to have everything go smoothly all the time.

They stress the importance of seeking help when it comes to mental health, showing that it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

They also show us how speaking up and standing for what you believe in can make a positive impact on the world.

Why we’re celebrating DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan, a prolific NBA shooting guard, has been an outspoken advocate for destigmatizing mental health issues, partnering with the league to establish new mental health programs and encouraging players to seek help.

His openness about his own struggles with depression has made him a role model for reducing stigma around mental illness in the NBA community and beyond.

DeRozan lost family members and friends to gang violence. That difficult upbringing pushed him deeper into basketball and further away from his reality.

He found fame and riches, making good on the promise he made to his family that he would get them out of their circumstances. But as he got older, DeRozan discovered that his problems didn’t go away because he avoided them; they merely piled up.

“[My depression] forced me to a place where I was confined, quiet, isolated. And over time, that wasn’t really healthy either. Those feelings build up.”

DeMar DeRozan

His Mental Health Journey

Through a simple yet impactful Instagram post, DeRozan shared a picture of the Joker, accompanied by a thought-provoking statement: “the worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

In that moment, he peeled back the curtain on his own struggles, inviting others to acknowledge the challenges of concealing inner battles.

This act of vulnerability set the stage for a larger conversation about mental health.

But it wasn’t just through social media that DeRozan expressed his journey. His pain, once suppressed, found an unconventional outlet – tattoos. His once-bare arms now bear the intricate tapestry of his life story, each inked phrase and image revealing the depths of emotions he used to conceal behind every jump shot and dunk.

It’s a form of catharsis, a “therapeutic release” that allows him to externalize the inner turmoil he once kept hidden.

DeRozan’s includes recognizing some of the perils of social media, where perfect lives are often portrayed, creating a stark contrast to the complexities of real life.

“When you see someone really expressing how they may feel, that can uplift and give other people the confidence that they’re not alone.”

DeMar DeRozan

We hope these stories inspire you, just like these athletes inspire us. Remember, you’re not alone in your journey. With determination and resilience, you can overcome anything.

‘Head in the Game’ is here to help support young peoples mental health. To learn more about the ‘Head in the Game’ program click here. Young people can also explore resources to support their mental wellbeing by clicking here.