Over the course of the month of November, NBC Sports will be releasing videos that feature various sports superstars discussing the importance of mental health as well as how they approach the subject.
NBC Sports will then release a documentary titled “Headstrong” in conjunction with men’s health month. Among the athletes who participated in the nationwide project was Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson has long been an advocate for mental health, and he speaks to his mental health coach Trevor Moawad on a daily basis. He said he established an appreciation for creating a positive mindset at a young age.
“I think the mind is everything,” Wilson said. “My parents used to talk to me about how we think and how we talk and the power of language is everything. Really it’s the core of what mental health is.”
Wilson’s parents encouraged him to have an imagination and believe in himself. They taught him that speaking things into existence would allow him to be successful and make the most out of his potential.
Seattle’s 5-foot-11 franchise quarterback faced several challenges as a kid. His family didn’t have much financially, and, even then, he was told he was too short to ever be an athlete of any significance. There was never a shortage of people telling him no.
“I’m thankful for my parents giving me a vision – for giving me positive language and giving me language of life and not negativity,” Wilson said.
Wilson is famous for his optimism, and that outlook is contagious throughout the Seahawks roster. Every word out of his mouth during a game – no matter if the Seahawks are up by seven or down by 20 – is positive. It’s part of the reason why Seattle has become notorious for late-game comebacks with Wilson at the helm.
But even though the QB appears to be a master on the topic of mental health, it’s still something he works at on a daily basis.
“You don’t have to be sick to get better,” Wilson said. "No matter how successful you are or what status you are – a top quarterback or if you’re trying to overcome cancer – the best thing that we can do is have positive language.”
Neutral language is also just as important as having a positive mindset. The Idea of neutrality means to have the ability to assess your situation – good or bad – without letting it impact you positively or negatively. That allows you to best understand the necessary course of action without being influenced by emotion.
Wilson said that losing his father was the event that challenged him the most from a mental standpoint. His father was sick and his passing wasn’t a surprise, but that didn’t make the situation any less devastating.
Wilson shared that he feels his dad with him every place he goes. It’s the quarterback’s devout faith that helped him not only get through the loss of his father, but grow and thrive from it.
“The sun still comes up in the morning,” Wilson said. “That’s the reality. If we can have that great perspective that the sun is still going to come up, and we can believe in that and have great faith and have great people to surround you and love you and care for you – that’s critical to life.”
Wilson is currently having an MVP-caliber season having led Seattle to a 7-2 record through nine games. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to have 22 touchdown passes and just one interception at any point in a season.
For more on NBC’s headstrong initiative, head to our Headstrong website.