Southfield (CW50) – There is a growing number of professional athletes who are speaking out about their struggles with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. These professionals are idolized by kid, teen, and young adult athletes around the world, and the more vocal these icons are about their challenges with mental health, the more the stigma behind mental illness is broken.

Community Connect Host Jackie Paige, with Former Detroit Lion Trevor Bates

Trevor Bates, a former Detroit Lion, joins Jackie Paige on Community Connect to discuss the moment in his life that ended his career in the NFL, but led to his life of helping others with their mental health challenges.

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In 2018, while Bates was playing for the Lions, he experienced his first episode from an undiagnosed bipolar disorder leading to an altercation with police in New York. Bates was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder after his arrest having been sent to physiatrics ward. Bates described this moment as one that helped him learn about mental illness and to use his experience to shine a light on the stigma behind these illnesses.

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Trevor Bates, Former Detroit Lion and Friendship Circle/UMatter Volunteer (Courtesy of Friendship Circle)

Since 2018, Bates has been volunteering with Friendship Circle and its UMatter program, a program focused on empowering teens to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health challenges and suicide. Bates was a featured speaker at UMatter’s “One Thing I Wish you Knew” event. The event highlighted members of the community, like Bates, who have face mental health challenges in their life, giving them an opportunity to be open about their struggles in hopes to help others in the community facing the same challenges.

Former Detroit Lion Trevor Bates (Courtesy of Trevor Bates)

Bates is also on the board for the Pure Heart Foundation, a non-profit which focuses on helping children with incarcerated parents through providing them with the tools and positive environment to succeed academically and socially. The foundation is important to Bates as he too was raised in a household with an incarcerated parent.

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Watch COMMUNITY CONNECT, Saturday at 7am on CW50