Marshall takes to TV to raise mental-health awareness

Marshall takes to TV to raise mental-health awareness
October 24, 2013, 2:15 pm
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CSN Staff

Brandon Marshall made some news Thursday with a bold prediction regarding the health of injured quarterback Jay Cutler, but he was on national TV to do something else.

Marshall, a now well-known advocate for mental-health awareness, joined MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" to discuss his role in promoting a conversation about mental health.

"The stage that we're in — our foundation, the Brandon Marshall Foundation, launched a few years ago but really starting to get going — we're in the stage of just advocating and spreading the word and creating conversation," Marshall told MSNBC's Peter Alexander. "So I would say, five years from now, I would look back and say it's a success if we're not afraid to talk about it anymore in the workplace, in our marriages, in our school systems, in government. So I think that's where we start. If you look at where we are right now, nobody wants to talk about it. It's still highly stigmatized. And if we can take it from that to a conversation that's comfortable, I think we'll be headed down the right road."

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Marshall joined the program a day after attending a mental-health awareness event in Boston, an event also attended by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The event acknowledged President John F. Kennedy's creation of the Community Mental Health Act.

"It's something about a community," Marshall said. "When you look at the definition of the word, it's a group of people, no matter if it's big or small, that have some of the same belief system and are fighting for the same things. What's going on in our country, it's time for us to stand together and really get things done. It's kind of ironic that we celebrated the last piece of legislation signed by our president, President Kennedy, 50 years ago and it's still a taboo topic. So it's time to take it to an everyday conversation."

Alexander also asked Marshall about his now infamous green shoes, worn despite an NFL fine during a Thursday-night game against the Giants earlier this month.

"Like I always say, football is my platform not my purpose, so that was an amazing arena to be in, amazing platform playing in front of a few million people," Marshall said. "And to be out there, have the chance to create conversation, create dialogue was amazing. I was fined $10,500, but that's nothing compared to conversation and awareness raised that night. A company in San Francisco ran some numbers for us, and we got over $100,000 worth of coverage and people talking about it. It was a success."

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Marshall closed the interview with his prediction about Cutler, but before he did, he shared his personal story of challenges with mental health and the genesis of his foundation.

"We're pretty much institutionalized to be tough, to shake it off, not talk about pain or struggles, and I think that's probably one of the main causes of some of our struggles in our personal lives," he said. "For me, the disorder presented itself a few years ago and just started getting out of control where I couldn't handle it anymore. And it wasn't until I was McLean Hospital, I was in group therapy with a doctor, an attorney, even a clinician, and here I am a big-shot football player and we're all sitting here talking about our struggles and things going on in our lives. I'm sitting here listening to people who are suicidal and self-harming themselves, and what was scary was we all got up, went into the parking lot and went into society like we were normal human beings where everything was OK. And I started to think, 'How many more people are out there suffering but doesn't have the resources or are afraid to talk about it?'

"And that's why we launched our foundation, and right now, we need help. We're looking to partner with government, we're looking to partner with corporations. We need people on our board to really have the expertise to take us from where we're at today to be the preeminent foundation devoted to mental health."

Watch the full interview with Marshall right here: