Jason Bell: “We were so depressed but we didn’t know it. We knew what we were going to do but we were so depressed.”

Jason Bell: “We were so depressed but we didn’t know it. We knew what we were going to do but we were so depressed.”

The battle with poor mental health is sadly one that many of us will face in our lifetime, one in four of us, to be precise.

Despite this scary statistic and the increase in coverage of the subject, it is still a topic that is largely misunderstood, especially when it comes to celebrities and athletes.

Around 450 million people currently suffer with a form of negative mental health and yet some still expect the big names in society to be immune, which is quite obviously not the case.

Worldwide lockdown has been extremely detrimental to a lot of sufferers of this invisible disease and for former NFL player Jason Bell, it has reminded him all too much of the time that followed the abrupt end to his footballing career.

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Bell was forced to retire through injury at just 30-years-old and has recalled the mental similarities he endured then to what many are experiencing now.

“When I think about that (retiring through injury), everything people are feeling now, I felt” said the former cornerback.

“You are depressed and you don’t know it. You just don’t feel the same way. If you are mentally tough you just kinda grind through it.

“The world is in this together now. You see all these articles every week about how to avoid depression and there’s all these solutions. I didn’t have these.

“A good friend of mine, Carlos Emmons, he was a linebacker and a friend of mine and Osi. We retired at the same time. He got hurt, I got hurt.

“His girlfriend at the time told him years later ‘I cant believe how depressed you were, you used to spend 4/5 hours a day on the phone with Jason’.

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“We would sit and call each other and just talk. We’re 30, everybody’s got a job, all our friends are playing football, we knew what we were going to do but we were so depressed.

“We were so depressed but we didn’t know it. We knew what we were going to do but we were so depressed. The thing we had was each other”.

As most will tell you that have suffered or continue to suffer with their mental health, talking is the single toughest but most important thing you can do.

If there’s one thing that worldwide lockdown has been good for, it’s that it has brought the conversation about mental illness back to the forefront and Bell was keen to enforce the need to carry on conversing with those close to you.

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“This COVID situation has forced people to think, ‘who can’t I live without’ – it’s forced people to ask what is important” said the 42-year-old.

“Just don’t forget your friends, family and your tight knit group.

“Something else will happen in your life but remember what you felt like during COVID and what and who got you through, those are the people that you trust and you care about.

“Those are the people that you need. Lean on them. We’re humans, we’re not supposed to socially distance.

“Why do you think when people protest – the power of it? It’s in togetherness. Hate is exhausting. We’re not supposed to be like that.

“Why do you think we love sport? People together, accomplishing.

“Fans are so important to the game. The fans are as important to the game as the player, that energy is real. We feel it out there on the field, they feel it in the stands.

“Through this situation, I look at the difference to when I retired, being by myself and going through that – I didn’t have a community going through it with me when I retired.

“You can get through anything with the people you care about and understanding that you’re not alone. It really is key, it’s how I live my life”.

You can view the full interview with Jason below or listen through all good streaming platforms.

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