Ohio State Basketball Star DJ Carton Makes Decision to Take Mental Health Break From Team
"I have been suffering with mental health issues for a couple years," the student athlete shares with Buckeye Nation
January 31, 2020
D.J. Carton, one of Ohio State’s star basketball players, has announced he’s taking a break from the team to work on his mental health, and we’ve got to hand it to him, it’s a heroic decision.
The freshman point guard, who was No. 6-ranked point guard in his class of 2018 college recruits, has quickly risen as a star player for the Buckeyes, averaging 10.4 points and three assists in nearly 24 minutes per game this season at Ohio State. His position on the team not only elevates his stature in the eyes of college basketball fans, and the university’s dedicated alumni, but also on campus among his peers. Combine his impressive statistics with his passion for the game, and it’s easy to deduce that this was not an easy decision.
Yet, he just set a glowing example for the rest of the world, especially young people eager to make their mark through their own unique passions. At just 19, he found the strength and maturity to realize his own well being is worth far more than sports stardom. In his statement, which made waves in the sports world this week, he recognized another huge benefit of his hiatus — strengthening his state of mind will ultimately make him a stronger player.
“In making this decision, I felt it was important to be transparent as to why I’m taking this break. I have been suffering with mental health issues for a couple years,” he wrote on social media. “I have been through a lot. I’m disappointed to say I’m not 100 percent right now. I am not doing my teammates justice if I don’t work on this now.”
“I am doing everything in my power to strengthen my mental health,” he continued. “I will fight for my team and Buckeye nation and I will come back stronger. If you are going through mental health issues, I have learned through this you are loved and valued.”
Unfortunately, Carton will have to endure naysayers. It’s impossible for spectators to really understand what the young athlete is wrestling with internally, and given die-hard fans’ attachment to the team’s success each season, public ridicule or criticism is inevitable. In the world of sports, in particular,”walk it off” and “suck it up” are two pieces of common advice. However, comments on social media are largely positive, which is a good sign that more and more people in our society are waking up to the importance of mental health.
Another person tweeted, “This is such a great thing that you are focusing on your mental health. I hope more athletes see this and follow your lead. It’s not easy. But you’re doing the right thing and as a mental health professional, it’s great to see. Good luck on your journey! Rooting for you!”
Carton’s decision comes on the heels of schools across the country starting to prioritize mental health.
A recent study found 60 percent of students suffer from anxiety, and 40 percent suffer from depression, but only between 10-15 percent seek assistance.
Democratic State Senator Will Haskell is among the elected officials paying attention. “We have a crisis of mental health in this country, and it is especially true on college campuses,” he said in response to two recent suicides on campuses in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, the University at Albany has invested $2 million into a new 35,000-square-foot medical facility that has 24 rooms dedicated to psychological counseling, and even has a meditation room.
High schools are taking mental health more seriously, too. Oregon passed a law last summer allowing students to take mental health days in addition to sick days, and before that Utah changed its definition of valid excuses for absences to include mental health issues.
All of these regional efforts are ultimately raising nationwide awareness for how crippling poor mental health can be. “Suck it up” is slowly but surely being replaced with “talk about it.” Everyone plays a part in the collective movement to destroy the mental health stigma, and D.J. Carton just became an MVP.
About the Writer:
Greg Gilman spent nearly a decade as an entertainment news reporter and editor for publications including Perez Hilton, TheWrap and TMZ’s TooFab. He left that life behind at the start of 2019, and spent the year detoxing his mind from the pop culture poison that had accumulated over the last decade. Now, he’s focused on writing pieces that are beneficial for the world around him, in between gigs as the frontman of LA rock band, Greg in Good Company. He has suffered from depression and anxiety, and is still trying to conquer an addiction to screens and social media, but has found studying Eastern spiritual philosophies to be tremendously helpful in his quest for peace of mind.
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