Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that hits close to home for Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds, even though he's never served in the military. Votto's own mental health suffered during his father's illness and after his death in 2008. Overwhelming panic attacks and deep bouts of depression rendered Votto unfit to work and landed him on the disabled list, writes Melissa Cuoto of the Canadian Baseball Network. Votto is better now — and has been — and, having become the beneficiary of a $263 million contract, is in a position to give back using his foundation. He's having a benefit Dec. 5 that includes auctions for memorabilia and other prizes that should raise a lot of money for the cause. Cuoto writes:
Looking back now, Votto sees his personal struggle as the catalyst that propelled him to set up his current foundation.
“There were a bunch of avenues I could go with, but because of my experiences in the past with emotional struggles, I wanted to help others who are going through mental health issues,” he said. “I chose a path I’m very passionate about and it’s something I’m familiar with.
“It makes sense to me from an experience standpoint, and it’s something I want to support.”
To get his foundation off the ground, Votto hired Jill Miller, former development director at Ronald McDonald House, as the organization’s executive director last October.
Miller says Votto takes his role as founder and chairman of the foundation seriously.
PTSD is a serious health crisis, in large part because it deals with the mental, emotional and psychological. The wounds are harder to spot and more difficult to accept. Mental health still has a stigma attached. Public figures like Votto can help wash away that stigma.
Votto is making a difference simply by being willing to speak about his own mental health issues in public. He's literally being courageous in doing so. As a result, there probably are young Reds fans out there, and young Votto fans, who are more willing to come forward and get help for themselves, or to encourage friends or family who need it.
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