Opinion | It’s okay to not be okay

Kobe Boyce’s decision to take a break from his football career to take care of his mental health not only sets a good example, but shows that even the strongest of us can struggle mentally.



Kobe Boyce of Lake Dallas High School poses for photos with his parents David Boyce and Mary Flowers Boyce after signing his letter of intent to play football at the University of Texas during signing day at Lake Dallas High School on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. (Vernon Bryant/Dallas Morning News)

Ally Pronina, Opinions Columnist

Texas cornerback Kobe Boyce announced he has depression and is going to take a break from football to focus on his mental health. This sets a vital example for others with mental illness. 

His story shows even those we typically think of as strong, such as football players, can struggle. People who have mental health issues are not weak. They need strength to fight the demons in their head. 

Boyce is strong for having the courage to talk about his depression publicly. He is strong for making the decision about what is best for him, even if it causes society to think he is weak.

His strength can save lives by giving it to others who need it. The more people with mental illnesses feel comfortable communicating what they are going through, the more of them will be able to get help. 

It also can encourage others struggling with their mental health to take care of themselves. This is essential now more than ever, as COVID-19 has raised anxiety and depression in the United States. 

Recent Census Bureau data shows a third of Americans are showing signs of clinical depression and anxiety. Usually, 24 percent of Americans show signs of clinical depression and 30 percent show generalized anxiety disorder. On one question about depressed mood, the percentage showing this symptom doubled that found in a 2014 survey.

It’s OK to take a break from life and care of yourself. University of Iowa students who struggle with their mental health should not be afraid to withdraw from the semester in order to do so, if they feel like it is needed. 

No position, degree, or status is worth your mental health. This is something not always acknowledged in our society but is by Boyce. 

Mental illness can interfere with people’s ability to do what they normally do. Depression can do so by causing a lack of energy and interest in hobbies and everyday activities. 

Doing anything, even something you love, is hard when you don’t have the energy or interest. Boyce likely decided to take a break from football because it was hard for him to enjoy and give his whole effort into. 

This does not mean he and other people with depression are weak. It means they need help, like we all sometimes do. Luckily, for people with depression who have the strength to seek help, there is hope. 

Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy, or both. That’s all great, but treatment is only as effective as the effort and time the patient puts into it. 

That time and effort might need to come from previous activities the patient has decided to take a break from. Making this commitment is not easy, but worth it if it helps. 

Boyce’s decision shows something about mental illnesses often overlooked by those outside the mental health care profession. People who have them cannot help it. If he could, Boyce would not have let depression interfere with football. 

Depression is an imbalance of happiness and pleasure producing neurotransmitters-serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Hormonal changes-menopause, childbirth, and thyroid problems-can also cause it. Seasonal depression is a type people experience during the winter due to the days being shorter. 

People with physical illnesses have something wrong with the part of the body affected, not them. Similarly, mental disorders are something wrong biologically, not with the person.

Boyce’s announcement shows that you never know what others are going through. Listen to them, rather than judge. Spread kindness instead of stigma. Instead of labeling people as weak, give them strength through love.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.