He has been quite open about his struggles, shattering the image that athletes are 'superstars.'
Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George has been open about his mental health struggles. He spoke out in 2020 about his internal battles and how he struggles to keep them within. Recently, George unveiled a new collaboration that would assist individuals in need with access to free mental health treatments. In an interview with Fan Nation, he talked about why he decided to speak in 2020 even though there are very few NBA players who have publicly addressed mental health. "It kinda just happened on my own," George said. "But I'll be honest, I was one of those people that thought I was invincible, and I was stronger than any human being, and I could handle everything internally. It kind of just gets to a point where it overflows, and you don't have any direction, and you don't know where to go, and you don't have the answers."
He said that after a lot of thinking, he realized that he wasn't "perfect" and he can't have control over everything happening to him. All these feelings of turmoil led him to open up about his mental health and inspire others to get help. He reached out to multiple therapists throughout his journey and wants to help others do the same. Mental health still remains inaccessible around the world with no proper resources or enough medical professionals available. The stigma around getting professional help is also a big hurdle for inaccessibility.
He explained, "I think it's not talked about enough, as far as the mental health side. And, you know, it's here, it's very much here. It's a part of everyone's life. Everyone goes through something, everyone's been through something. Everyone has a story, and everyone has a reaction to their story."
The basketball player has gone through "various therapists" that have helped him navigate his life and relationships, and it had positive effects. He explained, "I'm a huge advocate that therapists are there to help. And it's not just a cliche of talking to someone like they actually will give you answers that you didn't necessarily see, or answers that you couldn't have come up with. So it's just good to get a different perspective."
George decided to do his part in destigmatizing and partnered with Better Help, a mental health platform that provides services directly to people. They have launched an initiative where they will be giving $3 million worth of free mental health services to people who need them. George said of his partnership with the platform, "I heard of what they were doing, and I wanted to be a part of it. I love what they're doing, bringing awareness to it, and I see this being a great step and a great chapter in everyone's life, to kind of be able to open up and just express themselves, and answer questions that they might have been afraid to ask. I think it's just a step in the right direction."
He also wants to shatter the narrative that athletes like him are "superstars" and don't have complex emotions. He said, "We go through a lot of stuff, and we put a bandaid on it by going out and competing. But once we're done competing, we go home, and there's not 20,000 people screaming at you, yelling your name, and cheering for you."
George's teammate, John Wall, is another athlete who has lately spoken out about mental health difficulties. George is happy that Wall chose to break his silence. He explained, "So many people can draw from his experience, and can find comfort in knowing that if John can do it, if John can be strong enough to say, 'Hey, I need help,' then I can do it too. No one is above those feelings. No one is above what it takes to say, 'Hey, I'm not okay.' So I was just happy for him, and I'm definitely happy that he found help."
He has a message for anyone who is struggling to get help for their mental health. "Regardless of whatever you're going through, there's always a brighter side," the NBA star said. "It's not the end all be all. There's a way to attack every problem or issue that you're going through. It might be dark for you at the moment, but there is an opportunity there. There is positivity on the other side."