UCLA Basketball legend Kevin Love opens up about mental health

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 25: Kevin Love /

Former UCLA basketball player and current Cleveland Cavalier Kevin Love opens up about mental health in a moving article he wrote for the Players’ Tribune.

In the Players’ Tribune this morning, Cleveland Cavaliers forward and UCLA Basketball great Kevin Love opened up about his mental health journey and invited readers to explore their own.

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It is absolutely worth your time to read, but I wanted to recap it here to help spread the good word.

He relives, in vivid detail, the panic attack he had during a game last November. What stuck with Love after that incident was not the fear of what had happened, but the shame he felt and how insistent he was that no one ever find out.

Love tells how he worked through his lifelong and tacit assumptions about strength and weakness, health and sickness, success and failure and how he came to understand and then reject the stigma that surrounds mental health.

The key takeaways:

  • Seeking help (be it through psychiatry or psychology) is not weakness but, in fact, strength – strength of knowing yourself and that your worth is in no way diminished by struggling with or treating mental health.
  • Loneliness and isolation (which are not coincidentally among the consequences of stigma and suffering in silence) can compound mental health problems.
  • You cannot tell what someone else is going through just by looking at them; mental health is a concern for rich and poor, male and female, healthy and sickly. There is no “guys like me” or “guys like [X] don’t struggle with these things.”
  • Everyone is going through something you can’t see. Not everyone is struggling with mental health, but everyone is balancing stressors or trauma or grief or shame or insecurity of some kind or another.

Look, I don’t want to speak above my non-existent qualifications here, but I know this. I know that, left untreated, mental illnesses can develop and worsen and even metastasize, cancer-like, from neuroses into full-blown psychoses. I also know that the demographic most afflicted by mental illness is the demographic that most likely reads sports blogs: males in their 20s and 30s.

Love says he got the courage to go public with his mental health journey because DeMar DeRozan did the same thing. Stigma lingers like a shadow over this whole issue, and the only way to beat it is one light at a time.

If you’ve ever experienced mental illness, talk about it and be open. If you think that you might suffer from even low-level depression or anxiety, please talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be a therapist. It can be a coach or a parent or a friend. Get help and then never shut up about the help you got, in the hopes that your example will lead others to get the help they need as well.

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Lastly, if all else fails, know the  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1.800.273.8255. It’s free, it’s manned 24/7, and it can save a life.