This May, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and National Alliance of Mental Illness, Coastal Virginia chapter, are joining forces to break the stigma surrounding mental health in the sports community. The program, Changing the Game, invites former athletes, medical professionals and state and local legislators to share first-hand accounts with mental illness and offer insight into spreading awareness and furthering education.
In addition to lectures and Q&As, a moderated panel discussion will be hosted by a number of advocates from notable academic and athletic institutions such as Ocean Lakes High School, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, Norfolk Admirals, Virginia Wesleyan University, James Madison University and the College of William and Mary. The program not only aims to shed light on depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses but also will offer guidance on how to manage them.
“No longer is it acceptable to just implore someone to be ‘mentally tough’ and leave it at that,” says Kay Ashby, NAMI Coastal Virginia board member. “There may be underlying issues that an individual is dealing with. How do we recognize and react? Changing the Game is another step in the process of fostering a conversation and helping the public to better understand this complex issue.”
Changing the Game will be presented on Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at the Zeiders American Dream Theater in Town Center of Virginia Beach. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for guests 18 years or younger. Tickets can be purchased through the theater box office or online at TheZ.org or VaSportsHOF.com.