September 29, 2012; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs former player Herschel Walker on the sidelines before the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs won 51-44. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

UGA legend Herschel Walker speaks out on mental health at event

Former Georgia Bulldogs great Herschel Walker had the opportunity to speak out about something very dear to his heart this week. Not UGA football, but the challenges facing mental health issues.

Walker allowed SummitRidge Hospital, a private psychiatric facility in Lawrenceville, Ga., to put on an event that would help to bring awareness to mental health at his downtown Athens restaurant, Herschel’s 34 Chicken & Ribs Kitchen. It was attended by mental health professionals, law enforcement and other civic leaders.

The Bulldogs legend himself revealed six years ago that he had been dealing with a multiple personality disorder known as dissociative identity disorder, dating all the way back to his playing days at UGA in the early 1980s.

In an interview with the Athens Banner-Herald, Walker talked about the importance of removing the stigma of mental health disorders and the need for more available treatment.

“Mental health is different. When you start talking about mental health, people get scared, thinking ‘you’re crazy.’ The Heisman, the NFL, UGA … they all opened doors so my voice can be heard.”

The need for a better understanding of mental health issues in today’s world is greater than ever, and Herschel Walker’s voice is an important one in making sure that there is a change in perception of these issues.

“When are we going to talk about preventative action? [Lawmakers] have to take that initiative. We have to have leaders that are going to be on fire about it.”

Walker was in a position, both mentally and financially, to be able to seek help for his condition, but that’s not always the case, and he wants to be sure that people aren’t made to suffer in silence, sometimes to the point of injuring themselves or others.

If I had not gotten help, I would have killed myself. I didn’t like who I was. I’d get angry over nothing. It got so intense that I thought, ‘I could really injure somebody.’”

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