The month of November is Men's Health Awareness Month. ‘The Movember Foundation’ uses November to bring awareness to various men’s physical and mental health issues, as well as support to those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and more.
Throughout this month, NBC Sports will be releasing numerous videos that feature sports superstars discussing the importance of mental health as well as how they approach the subject.
Zach Okun received his first collegiate scholarship for athletics in eighth grade. He was more than 300 pounds and as tall as his teachers. There was already a path laid out before him regarding his future: football.
That all changed in a matter of seconds. Football is not just a contact sport, it is a collision sport, especially on the line. Okun was an offensive lineman at the University of Oregon, but a severe concussion suffered at practice one day did more damage than a headache.
Okun battled with anxiety, depression, even suicidal thoughts. It’s a continuous battle within himself.
“It ripped the joy out of life. You can ask anyone who knows me. There’s a distinct difference between Zach prior to that and Zach now. And that’s hard. Feeling like your brain is fighting you, it’s exhausting."
Today, Okun attends the University of Santa Clara pursuing a degree in law. He gets messages from friends, fans and others who may be going to something similar as he did and to some degree still does.
“I feel like I’m getting back, but everyday is tough. I wouldn’t take back that experience because it made me who I am now but it’s hard.”