Ohio State football coach Ryan Day just announced his participation in a new charitable effort to erase the stigma of mental illness, and because there is a stigma associated with it, the mere fact that Day has shown a willingness to tackle the topic has already made a difference.
610 WTVN caught up with Day and was able to briefly ask him what the reaction to the rollout has been.
Interview edited for clarity and brevity.
Question: You announced your effort a little over a week ago. What's the feedback that you're getting?
Answer: Unbelievable. Really humbling. Some stories that I can't really share with you, but the people who have come up to me? The stories that they've told me and shared have literally brought me to tears. Same thing with Nina. (reporter's note: Day's wife) Just going to the doctor's, and having people come to talk to them. Being out at my son's baseball game. It's been unbelievable. And it's really not just in Ohio; it's been from coast-to-coast. That just kind of reinforced the fact that we made the right decision with this, and we're so excited about it. We actually sent a group of guys over to spend some time over the hospital the other day. Great response that way, so we're really excited about the future on this.
Question: You talked about the stigma associated with mental illness when you unveiled your charity. Have any of the encounters you've had since your announcement shown you that your actions are helping to break that down?
Answer: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, a lot of that's happened, surprisingly, through social media. That way they can send me messages, and that way, I've seen a lot of things. The biggest thing that I'm hearing, though, is just that we are saying that it's okay to have these conversations. Obviously, the worst case scenario is suicide, but mental health, it kind of shows its face in different ways. There's school shootings every day, which is just frightening. There's also drug use, eating disorders, infidelity, there's so many different things out there. The goal, obviously, is to get people the help that they need, but then also--again--just like you go to the doctor's to get antibiotics when you get a cold, the idea would be to go and speak to somebody so that you can stay healthy. Sometimes it's good to get out in front of it, as well, as opposed to just being reactive. And there's nothing to be ashamed of. Just say you need help.
Question: Without getting into any personal conversations, I wouldn't want you to invade anybody's privacy, have any of your players come to you since the unveiling of this campaign? Maybe even just to say thank you? We appreciate this.
Answer: They certainly have acknowledged it. Yeah, and I think they're really behind it. I think the guys understand, they're in a huge spotlight here, and they understand if they drop a pass, they're going to get scrutiny. We're going to have four people that are full-time, in house to go to if they need someone to talk to. And I think now is the time to have these conversations on what happens in October or November, they have the support in place so that they're okay.
If you're struggling with suicidal thoughts, please, call 1-800-273-8255, or text “START” to 741-741.