Alabama offensive lineman Javion Cohen revealed in an Instagram post on Tuesday that he spent the past month at a rehabilitation facility in Massachusetts for mental health reasons.
“[T]he pressure we feel as athletes is insurmountable and can be too much at times,” Cohen wrote in his post. “[I] don’t want to focus on the bad though, [I] want to shed light on the good that has come of this.”
The biggest lesson he learned at Herren Wellness, Cohen wrote, was that “it’s okay to not be okay but it is not okay to not say you’re not okay.”
Herren Wellness was founded by former professional basketball player Chris Herren, who struggled with addiction and became sober in 2008. Herren has visited Alabama as a guest speaker of coach Nick Saban in the past.
Cohen, a junior from Phenix City, started all but one game last season, missing the one game due to injury.
In his post, Cohen wrote that he felt before that he had no support and “no outlet to express my emotions … without feeling judged.”
“[B]eing here taught myself and so many around me that that’s not true,” he wrote. “[B]eing vulnerable does not make you weak, it actually shows how strong you are.”
Cohen encouraged others to “stand up for your mental health” and to not be afraid to seek help.
A survey conducted by the NCAA last year found that student-athletes “continue to report elevated levels of mental health concerns.”
The NCAA surveyed 9,808 male and female athletes and found that while two-thirds of respondents knew where to go on campus for mental health concerns, only 47% felt they would be comfortable personally seeking support from a mental health provider on campus.
Among the findings published by the NCAA in May, it said that 63% of respondents felt their teammates take mental health concerns of fellow teammates seriously, and 53% said their coaches take mental health concerns of their players seriously.