Why Former NFL Player Jay Barnett Advocates for Men’s Mental Health: ‘I Fell Apart’

Photo from Jay Barnett’s Instagram

Why Former NFL Player Jay Barnett Advocates for Men’s Mental Health: ‘I Fell Apart’

By Movieguide® Contributor

After former Green Bay Packers player Jay Barnett struggled following his retirement from the NFL, he found a new purpose in advocating for men’s mental health.

In an interview with CBN’s Prayerlink, he discussed what led him to become a mental health therapist.

“When football fell apart, when I got sent home I fell apart. And that was when I attempted – I had my first attempt,” Barnett remembered.

The former football player grew up without his biological father and was often abused by his stepfather, but he never let the pain show.

“The way we’re socialized as men, the way in which we have been developed to not really focus on our emotional and our mental elements of our development, we are taught to focus on the physicality, right,” he said.

“Getting in the gym, building muscles, becoming faster, all of those different things,” he continued. “And no one is really helping us define what it is when it comes to our emotional parts. Every man, I’m sure in some point of his life has heard ‘men don’t cry,’ or ‘man up,'”

Now, Barnett travels the country and uses his gifts and abilities to speak to other men and women about mental health struggles.

He specifically focuses on helping other black men. CBN reported, “A 2021 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that Black men had a larger increase in suicide attempts than any other racial group. Attempts among Black male adolescents increased by 47 percent from 2013 to 2019.”

“Like Paul in the Bible, I become all things to boys and men to point them back to Jesus while helping them explore the possibilities of becoming more beyond their trauma,” Barnett said on Instagram.

“I thank God for the agility to be authentic in many rooms without altering who I am. Our young men need prayer, counseling, and emotional support to become better versions of themselves,” he continued. “We need our boys WHOLE to have HEALTHY and SELF-AWARE MEN.”

He often uses his social media accounts as a platform to share his expertise.

“In a culture of oversharing, I’m grateful for real, safe spaces,” Barnett wrote. “Social media is not and will never be a healthy space to divulge your purest and rawest thoughts and feelings. Therapy will teach you the difference between sharing and disclosing.”

“I have been working with many individuals to understand the difference between sharing and disclosing. Not all spaces are meant for disclosure because they require maturity and sagaciousness,” he added.

“When you genuinely value your vulnerability, you’re careful with what, when, and to whom you disclose information,” he continued. “The constant vitriol from the social environment has perpetuated many mental health challenges for society.”

“I understand the need to feel a sense of belonging and validation, and it’s only natural because we are humans,” Barnett concluded. “Vulnerability is too valuable to release anywhere and to anyone.”

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