Seattle Mariners pitcher, and former Mets farmhand, Rob Whalen has an important message. When it comes to mental health, it does not make you weak to talk about your feelings.
Whalen, who was drafted by the Mets in the 12th round of the 2012 draft, was dealt during the 2015 along with John Gant to the Braves in exchange for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.
It was while in the Mets organization, Whalen said, that he first discussed his depression and anxiety to a team sports psychologist.
Whalen made five Big League appearances for the Braves in 2016, and that offseason, was dealt to the Mariners for a player to be named.
“We need to change the stigma that you’re fragile if you talk about it, because that’s not the case. We need to continue the conversation," Whalen said in an interview with MLB.com. "It’s almost like when you’re an alcoholic, you have to admit you’re an alcoholic. For me it was, ‘Okay, let me say these words out loud of how I’ve been feeling inside for so long,’ feeling if I did say it, people would think I’m crazy. I was 23, I’d gotten to the big leagues and had a great life. There wasn’t a lot to be upset about, but I was just miserable. So it was hard to understand it myself, let alone explain it to others.”
Whalen stepped away from the game last July in an effort to improve his mental health. He is back in camp with the Mariners this spring.
It's such an important message, and I commend Whalen for speaking out. No matter how overwhelming things feel, there is always a way to reach out for help. Talk to a friend, call a hotline, or visit a mental health professional. Don't suffer in silence. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
Athletics is an industry that oozes machismo, so I get why guys don't want to talk about it. As men, we're told to suppress our feelings. "Man up," society says, as if we're supposed to be infallible to emotion.
But we're not. No one is. And there is zero shame in saying that you're struggling. It doesn't mean you're unappreciative about your life, or that you're cowering from your challenges. A true man acknowledges when he can't do something alone; when a task is too much. A true man asks for help.
All the best to Whalen. Here's to a successful and healthy season in Seattle.
If you're in need of help, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.