Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day reminded around 250 students that there’s always someone in their corner.
Day spoke about his mental health experiences in the Archie M. Griffin Ballroom at the Ohio Union Thursday as a part of “Tackling Challenges: Mental Health Talk with Coach Day.” Wellness Advocacy, a student organization focused on promoting both physical and mental wellness, hosted the event.
Before welcoming Day to the stage, athletic director Gene Smith encouraged the audience to embrace their blessings and relationships.
“I would encourage all of us to just remind ourselves that we always have someone that we can talk to,” Smith said.
Day began by expressing his appreciation for the city of Columbus and its role in promoting mental health.
“It’s great to be a part of such a great community and such a great city and state that puts mental health at the forefront,” Day said.
The topic of mental health is very important to Day, as he lost his father to suicide when he was 9 years old, he said.
“That was very confusing to me as a youngster,” Day said. “There were times where I was confused and didn’t understand what was going on.”
Day said he is trying to break the stigma around mental health, which influenced his decision to join the On Our Sleeves movement and start the Christina and Ryan Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Wellness at Nationwide Children’s Hospital with his wife, Nina Day, in 2018.
“With our fund, what we do is we have many great kits where we’ve reached over a million classrooms across the country that have resources for teachers or counselors or just to help with mental health because a lot of people are unsure of how to do this,” Ryan Day said.
Ryan and Nina Day also donated $1 million through The Nina and Ryan Day Resilience Fund to the university for the funding of mental health and research services in August 2022 .
“Again, it’s just humbling to be a part of something that’s so progressive,” Ryan Day said.
Ryan Day said mental and physical health work together.
“Everytime I think I find myself in a situation where I’m trying to explain mental health, I just go back to physical health,” Ryan Day said.
Ryan Day said building resilience is very important and the only way to get stronger is by going through tough times.
“It’s just like when you look at somebody who may be bigger or stronger than someone just naturally, but you can lift weights and get stronger,” Ryan Day said. “Well, we can do the same thing mentally.”
When discussing how he bounces back from bad days, he said it is important to remember that life is like a rollercoaster ride.
“There’s just some days where things are going great. And on those days you’re going to laugh, you’re going to have great meals, you’re going to have your family, you’ve got to enjoy them the best you can and go get all you can get,” Ryan Day said. “But then when things kind of go down, and they’re low, all you can do is kind of hang on.”
Ryan Day said football and life are both a fight to become the best version of yourself every day.
“It’s our job as coaches to give them that environment to be the best version of themselves,” Ryan Day said. “A big part of that is not only the environment, but having the resources in place to do that.”
Ryan Day said it is important for student-athletes to take the time to recover mentally.
“We have to rest,” Ryan Day said. “You can’t just keep going and going.”
Ryan Day ended his speech by thanking the audience for attending the event and discussing a topic he sees as very important.
“When you talk about mental health, let’s talk about it in a positive manner that you can get excited about,” Ryan Day said. “We’re trying to help other people, and it’s the most rewarding thing you can do.”
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