Hopewell High School Football Raising Awareness For Mental Health

CHARLOTTE, NC –  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  This is the phrase pushing Brandon Gentry and the Hopewell Football team to lead the charge throughout the month of September and beyond.

“It is a tricky game because you know as football coach you say you got to be tougher, you got be harder.  Yet at the same time you have to be like we all have to take CPR and we have to take this as well.  We have to have the information.  I was not ready when a kid came my way, but now I am ready to send them to someone,” said Hopewell Head Coach Brandon Gentry.

Fonda Bryant is a 28 year survivor of suicide, and the mother of a former college athlete.  She says the stigma surrounding mental health is nowhere stronger than amongst athletes and black men

“Black culture, we do not talk about mental health.  All we do is pray about it.  We do not claim it.  It is a sign of weakness because of the stigma.  That is why we are dealing with this and I am just glad the Hopewell football team is saying, Miss Fonda, we are going to take a stand and let everyone know that as student athletes there is no shame when it comes to mental health,” says Fonda Bryant.

Hopewell quarterback EJ Johnson made it his focus to be an advocate for mental health among his teammates.

 “At the end of the day we are all humans.  We all have our failures and we need to help get over it.  Make sure we get our feelings out,” said Johnson.

Bryant says suicide is a ripple effect, but so is prevention, while the partnership with Hopewell Athletics has trickled throughout their student body, she wants to see it continue through the district.