By: Jess Frezza, Strategic Planning Committee Chair
In a Facebook post at 2:44 AM, Penn State’s kicker, Joey Julius made a heartfelt and courageous statement about his fight against his eating disorder. This post went up at the start of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Mental Health Awareness Week and could arguably be some of the best mental illness PR for Penn State.
This morning, Julius was on Good Morning America to spread even more awareness about eating disorders and mental illness by talking about his personal experience with an eating disorder.
The sad reality is that any mental illness can plague anyone regardless of his or her age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. While many people stereotype a person with an eating disorder as a frail girl, the unfortunate truth that Joey Julius exemplified is that is can happen to anyone and illnesses come in all different forms.
Julius’ Facebook post made him almost an unofficial spokesperson for those battling Mental Illness on campus. Many people took to blog or editorial platforms to talk about their own struggles and thanked Julius for speaking about his. With the school’s beloved kicker with some big hits on his stat sheet, it drives awareness to the different demographic. While many models have been coming forward about eating disorders in recent years, very few football players or related athletes have overcome the stigma.
Julius’ post, intended or not, is a call to action. He’s spreading awareness and starting conversation related to the mission of organizations like National Eating Disorders Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness. He’s becoming a catalyst for change to an unfamiliar demographic. Whether he knows it or not, Julius has been one of the most pivotal points in the mission of spreading mental health awareness.
Thank you, Joey, for your bravery and your contribution to de-stigmatizing mental illness.