The Importance of Mental Health Fitness

MILWAUKEE – “He’s a bum.”

Like clockwork, Green Bay Packers running back Patrick Taylor knows that if he fumbles, has a bad play, or gets cut again, social media critics will pounce into attack more.

“I try not to let it consume my life,” he explained. “It’s easy to reach that and take it to heart.”

Taylor wasn’t speaking to reporters in the Packers locker room after an off-season practice when he made those comments. He, alongside Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert, was taking part in a mental health panel discussion with Valorant Health.

During an NFL season, the two are division rivals. When promoting a cause bigger than the game, Taylor and Herbert were open and honest about their “mental health fitness” and how journaling and mediation are key to staying level.

“Mental health is a big thing,” Taylor said. “Sometimes in the offseason when I am not writing in my journal or doing my meditation practice, I definitely feel a difference throughout the day.

“Being present and being grateful, having a feeling of gratitude and not just going through the day, it’s a big thing to have that mindfulness and be present in the place that you are.”

Valorant is a virtual healthcare company focused on delivering mental health resources to underserved communities.

“As men, growing up, don’t show your feelings,” said Herbert. “When you’re feeling a certain way, just suck it up. All those things you heard growing up. Finding a way to talk through it and realize that it is okay. At some point, holding things in all the time isn’t okay.”

Taylor recalled the story of when he first began to journal about his feelings.

In 2019, as a senior at Memphis, he tore a ligament in his foot and was forced to sit on the sidelines.

“Keeping in mind how I’m feeling, not just physically but mentally in that particular moment,” he said. “Going through that time, it was a struggle. It was tough. With the uncertainty of it all, not being able to play. Not feeling like myself.”

Ahmed “Eddie” Qureshi, founder and CEO of Valorant, moderating the discussion, said “we are not where we want to be, but we are headed in the right direction.”

Both athletes shed light on mental health conversations that take place within their respective teams. Herbert said that the Bears have very open dialogue, and make sure players know they are welcome, and encouraged, to start open conversations in their locker room.

Taylor added that the Packers have mediation areas that are utilized often, especially before and after practice or games.

“Being able to ask someone, ‘hey how are you doing?’ and making sure you are able to reach those guys on that level,” Taylor added. “You can maybe inspire them to bring out the best in them.

“You never know what someone is going through in that particular moment.”

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