PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened conversations around mental health.
On Thursday, Dallas Cowboys quartersback Dak Prescott opened up about his struggles with anxiety and depression following his brother's suicide.
For Jordan Smith, the journey to mental well-being wasn’t easy.
"Just issues in my life I hadn’t dealt with," Smith said. "At the time it just felt isolating, it felt lonely, and struggling to get up in the morning."
Smith said those feelings started in his teens and when they didn’t go away, he started using alcohol to cope.
"Just kind of suppressing it, it’s more difficult. It was friend who did a mini-intervention and showed me that the other way was possible," Smith said.
Now Smith is four years sober. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought back feelings of isolation. However, he said, hearing NFL star Dak Prescott talk about his own battle with depression and anxiety lends hope.
"So I grew up in Scotland and I played a lot of rugby, and rugby is kind of similar to football where it's no weakness. So I think guys like that, kudos to him for taking that step," Smith said.
"This will have a significant impact on the stigma of mental illness and on people that are struggling," said licensed psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle.
Needle said she hopes Prescott’s story shows that anyone can struggle with mental health.
"It shows us that there are also people that truly believe we need more awareness, and we need to be talking about this more. There is no shame in talking about this," Needle said.