VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Wednesday night, two local groups are raising awareness about mental illness in sports.
The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and the Coastal Virginia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) are hosting 'Changing the Game'; a panel discussion focusing on how mental health and mental illness impact athletes.
The program includes first-hand stories from former athletes, medical perspectives on how mental illness is being addressed in sports and what state lawmakers are doing to raise awareness.
Panelists include former Bayside High School and James Madison University football star-turned-author Eugene Holloway, former NFL athlete and current Virginia Beach city councilman Aaron Rouse, Del. Cheryl Turpin, Norfolk Admirals team doctor Dr. Scott Sautter, Dr. Melissa Tamburo with Optima Health and Virginia Tech Asst. Athletic Director Dr. Gary Bennett.
The moderated panel discussion will include time for audience members to answer questions.
“’Mentally Tough’ is always a phrase that’s thrown out there, but what happens on the days you might not be mentally tough? We’re all human beings at the end of the day, whether you’re a top-level athlete or someone who’s just playing sports," Will Driscoll, Executive Director of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, told News 3 ahead of the event. "Everybody is still a human being and there are issues whether they’re clinical or they’re situational that could affect your well-being.”
'Changing the Game' starts at 7 p.m. at Zeiders American Dream Theater on Commerce St. in Virginia Beach. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for those 18 and under.