Sports Celebrities, Former Surgeon General, Healthcare Experts Discuss Suicide, Depression and Concussions

WASHINGTON (Sept. 15) – The former top medical officer for the United States, professional sports stars from the NFL and the WNBA and nationally known medical experts invite University and local residents to a free forum on mental and physical health at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22, in Armour J. Blackburn University Center.

Dr. David Satcher, the 16th Surgeon General of the United States, brings together sports celebrities Chamique Holdsclaw, Mark Kelso and Eric Hipple, to discuss their personal battles to maintain physical and mental health during the two-hour “NFL Community Huddle: Taking a Goal Line Stand for Your Mind & Body.”

Satcher, currently director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the center for Excellence on Health Disparities at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, has also included the wife of sports Hall of Famer John Mackey to talk about his battle with dementia caused by sports trauma.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, during any two-week period, one of every 20 Americans over the age of 12 experienced depression. Rates were higher in 40-59 year olds, women, and African Americans than in other demographic groups.

Holdsclaw, a professional basketball player with the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars, will be discussing her experiences as someone who has suffered from clinical depression.  Holdsclaw revealed her condition in 2004 after initially being ashamed to discuss the subject in public.

Kelso, who played in four consecutive Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, will talk about an issue being widely discussed today in the NFL, concussions.  Currently a commentator for Buffalo Bills radio broadcasts, he was known for wearing a “pro cap” on his helmet to reduce the risk of concussions.

Hipple, a quarterback for the Detroit Lions for 10 years and former NFL MVP, will discuss suicide.  Since his 15-year-old son Jeff’s suicide, Hipple has devoted his life to increasing awareness and defeating the stigma that is associated with depressive illness.

Sylvia Mackey is the wife Hall of Fame NFL tight end John Mackey, who was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia in 2001, believed to have been caused in part by his years in football.  Mackey’s plea to the NFL for help led to the “88 plan,” which provides up to $88,000 a year for nursing care or day care for ex-players with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or $50,000 for home care. The $88,000 and the name of the plan is for Mackey’s number, 88.

Jeanne Blake, a medical journalist, author and affiliated faculty member at Harvard University, will moderate the forum. Blake is the president and founder of Blake Works Inc. and Family Health Productions.  She also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric facility of Harvard Medical School.

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