World Mental Health Day was observed this week (October 10) to again raise awareness of mental health issues around the world, including in our own NFL community.

Several NFL alumni recently have been sharing their personal stories to break the stigma surrounding mental health and to encourage their former teammates to seek whatever help they need.

Marcus Smith II, who was the Eagles first round pick in the 2014 Draft, did not live up to the club’s expectations in Philadelphia. He was waived in 2017 and signed that summer with the Seahawks. He played well enough to re-sign in Seattle the following March but his personal issues seriously began to affect his play.

“Back in 2018, “ Smith recently told the AP, “Coach Pete Carroll was very supportive and helped me get a therapist. It took me at least six, seven months to go through all the things in the past that I had never addressed…If it weren’t for Pete and my then Seahawks line coach Cliff Hurtt, I probably wouldn’t be here today. I definitely think we’re moving in the right direction with guys actually opening up and going to get help. I just want to make sure it’s not too late. That’s why we must continue to speak about it.”

Player alumni are reminded that there is free assistance available for many of you and it is just a phone call away. The NFL-NFLPA Hospital Network Program includes a dedicated network of high-quality medical care providers in all NFL markets. This service is available to eligible vested alumni (under age 65) who no longer have paid NFL medical coverage under the Player Insurance Plan.

This free program pays 100%– up to $25,000– in ANNUAL Mental Health Maximums including mental health physician office visits and all outpatient services. These services range from mental health screenings to coverage for various levels of outpatient treatment options to appointments at physicians’ offices for family, marriage, and individual sessions. For more information, call 800-635-4625.

Also, the CIGNA Employee Assistance Program provides eight free sessions of therapy and counseling to all alums AND their family members who live under the same roof as the alum. For more info, call 800-635-4625.

Finally, there also is a 24/7 NFL HELP LINE (800-506-0078) for you which has trained therapists available to address various challenges including depression, anxiety, insomnia, alcohol abuse and substance abuse.

We at NFL Alumni encourage all of you to be honest with yourselves. Please do not hesitate to ask for assistance if you are suffering from mental disorder symptoms. Please also watch out for former teammates who may be struggling and need help on these same issues.

There is no shame in ANY OF US asking for help!