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  • Writer's picturePeggy Spear

Hanging With My Besties Dak Prescott and Kendall Jenner

As a lifelong 49ers fan, I hate the Dallas Cowboys. But now, (in addition to my love for Tony Romo as an NFL analyst), I find myself loving Dak Prescott.

In that same vein, I hate the Kardashians (but I do admire Kim for kicking Kanye to the curb). But suddenly, I find myself liking Kendall Jenner a whole lot more.

Why? Because they both have recently spoken out about the importance of mental health and shared their own stories of anxiety and depression.

Prescott’s was inevitable: he lost his brother to suicide last year. Jenner's anxiety was expected, too. Can you imagine the pressure of growing up in that family, on a reality show since she was a kid, then facing the hardcore pressure of being a model? While it seems glamorous, it’s not.

They join a growing number of celebrities speaking out now about the importance of mental health and helping destigmatize the condition.

Michael Phelps, Meghan Markle, Chrissy Teigen, Maria Shriver, Steve Young and Demi Lovato are just a handful of other celebrities who join Prescott and Kardashian in opening up about mental health issues they’ve suffered. I mean, Steve Young suffers from social anxiety?

Prescott’s recent admission was especially heartbreaking. He opened up in an interview about his brother’s suicide and own bouts with depression, and now is a leading voice in the NFL on its efforts to improve its response to what I call an epidemic.

It’s no longer just public service announcements either, reports Yahoo Sports. Indeed, mental health is now becoming a more ingrained part of the assistant coaching equation across the NFL, which began an initiative in 2019 with the Players Association to require all franchises to hire an in-house mental health professional. As part of that initiative, the league and union required each franchise to have a licensed behavioral health clinician in the team facility for at least eight hours each week. It also required that clinician to coordinate the mental health care needs for players. Now two years in the making, players like Prescott have begun looking at those clinicians like they’re part of the assistant coaching staff.

“It means the world to me to see NFL players be so vulnerable with their struggles from a mental health standpoint,” says longtime NFL fullback Michael Robinson. Robinson says in a trailer recently released by the NFL. “It was always the mightiest of the mighties, right? The manly men. The fact that it’s changing, the narrative is changing — when I first got into the National Football League, you would have never seen any pieces like this, where guys are sharing some of this information. Now you’re seeing guys raise their hand and say ‘Hey, I’m willing to share my story. Because if my story can help somebody else out there, that’s all that matters.’”

Jenner, too, is open about the fact that she struggles with an anxiety disorder, and has most of her life. During Vogue's new digital series, “Open-Minded,” she sat down with clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula to chat about her experience with anxiety and how people doubt her because of the privileged lifestyle she lives.

"There is going to be those people that say, 'Oh, okay, what does she have to worry about? What does she have to be anxious about?' and I'll never sit here and say that I'm not fortunate," she says in the beginning of the video. "I know I live a very privileged, amazing lifestyle. I'm a very blessed girl."

Well, many of us who suffer anxiety, depression and panic disorders are very blessed. We just have a mental condition that is still looked on as “weak-minded,” “unemployable” and “sickos” with that finger twirling around the head.

Jenner continues, “I still have one of these," pointing to her head, "and that thing up there sometimes doesn't always—I don't know—it's not always happy and it's not always connecting."

Kendall admits to Dr. Durvasula on the show that her panic attacks have gotten so bad that she's sought medical attention.

The smartest thing I did when my panic attacks and anxiety got the best of me was seek medical attention. With the help of some fantastic psychiatrists and counselors (I lucked out at Kaiser), I got medications that helped, a lot of mindfulness training, and an intensive course in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), a topic for another day but one that I would wholeheartedly recommend to others suffering from mental health issues.

The thing is, you don’t have to be a celebrity model or a superstar NFL quarterback to suffer mental health issues, either short-or long-term. And there is help waiting for us all. All you have to do is ask. You’re not alone.

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