Jessica A. Johnson
This is a column by Athens native Jessica Johnson, a lecturer at the Lima campus of The Ohio State University. She is a regular contributor to the Athens Banner-Herald.
Editor’s Note: This column contains non-graphical references to self-harm.
When the old Ohio State center Harry Miller has announced his retirement from football this month due to mental health issues, I don’t think that kind of revelation was as alarming as it would have been, say, 15 years ago.
Miller is a member of Generation Zyoung people born between 1997 and 2012, and further research has been published on this age cohort regarding their inner battles with mental health, stress and anxiety.
Members of Generation Z have been ranked as “the most depressed generation” according to the Annie E. Casey Foundationand data from the American Psychological Association reported that only 45% of Gen Z rate their mental health as “very good” or “excellent”.
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A 2019 report from the American Psychiatric Association found that members of Generation Z were ‘more likely’ to need therapy than previous generations. With the severity of depression among Gen Zers well documented, more of them are beginning to talk about their need for therapy and other treatments, and their openness is easing the stigma that has traditionally hovered over people who have struggled with mental health. troubles.
The NCAA has also stepped up its game in recent years to address mental health needs. In 2020, the NCAA awarded $100,000 in research grants with a particular focus on the psychosocial well-being and mental health of student-athletes, and its the first meeting of the mental health working group took place in 2013.
The Mental Health Task Force focuses on a variety of issues related to depression and other psychological issues, including the difficult academic transition of some student-athletes from high school to college and the impact of injuries.
Miller having the courage to share how he privately struggled with his mental health and beleaguered by suicidal thoughts will help elevate the conversation and encourage more research. He has a strong support system in OSU head football coach Ryan Day and the college athletic department.
Miller is well aware of the negative stereotypes that have labeled Gen Zers as mentally weak, and he refuted these assumptions by stating“I had seen the age-old adage that our generation was getting softer by the second, but I can tell you my skin was tough.”
Buckeye Nation football fans definitely considered Miller a badass when he was drafted as a four-star center in 2019, and expectations were high for the Georgia native Buford to be a solid anchor on the offensive line.
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After playing just two games last season, many were beginning to wonder why he was absent from the pitch. Some fans thought Miller was headed for the transfer gate and others speculated he had a delayed injury which was not disclosed.
None of us knew, however, that when we saw him perform he was, as he shockingly put it on Twitter, “a dead man on the TV set.” Miller described the torment of his ordeal with poignant grace as he spoke of his cutter, his physical and emotional scars, and his impressive 4.0 grade point average at Ohio State’s College of Engineering. Seeming quite wise beyond his years, Miller explained how someone like him, a gifted young man with an extraordinary future ahead of him, might be tempted to abandon him in a moment of hopelessness and despair.
Like I read Miller’s testimonial on Twitterthe comment that touched me the most was when he said he didn’t know if God would forgive him if he expressed his anger.
So many people like Miller who have been plagued by suicidal thoughts believe that God is angry with them, but the scriptures teach otherwise. I remember Ephesians 1:7, which tells us that we have forgiveness of sins through Christ according to the riches of his grace.
One of my favorite passages detailing God’s compassion is Psalm 34:18, which says that God is close to those with a “broken heart” and a “controverted spirit”, contrite meaning those who literally feel crushed. in life.
It is truly a blessing that Miller has not been crushed by the weight of his burdens, and his genuine transparency will help many of his peers who are experiencing the same desperation.