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Former Longhorn Will Matthews advocates for mental health

The former NFL player partnered with National Alliance on Mental Illness to erase the stigma associated with mental illness.

AUSTIN, Texas — Former Longhorn and NFL fullback Will Matthews recently found a new team to run with.  

The Austin-native has partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to help start conversations about mental health and the stigmas that often prevent athletes from reaching out for help when needed.

"People expect what we would deem as toughness, and toughness in this meaning means no matter what is happening on or off the field, when the game is going, you suck it up, you push it down, you become stone and you make it happen on the field," said Matthews. "It creates this wall that you have to break through because you think, 'If I ask for help or I open myself up, then I am weak or I'm defective.'"

Matthews himself is familiar with breaking through that wall. After an injury cut his professional career short, self-destructive behaviors tested his mental health in a way that had not been tested before.

"After a little bit of time spiraling and trying to find myself in things that don't help, I reached out and reconnected with my faith and kind of started over," said Matthews. "Football then changed from this milestone to more of a testimony of how if you work hard and continue to get great opportunities, you can make good things happen."

Matthews' most recent "great opportunity" connected him with NAMI. Together, they are presenting a virtual opportunity for all of us to celebrate World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 while completing a workout.  

Matthews and NAMI urge us to participate in NAMIWalks, a virtual 5K taking place on Oct. 10, in which participants are urged to start conversations about mental health and how to erase the stigmas that still exist.

You can find more information and register at namiwalks.org.

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