Ravens TE Hayden Hurst struggled with his mental health. He hopes to 'change some lives'

Wednesday was World Mental Health Day, an annual observance of mental health issues and education, with the goal of mobilizing efforts against the social stigma.

Hayden Hurst did his part.

“#MentalHealthAwareness you never know what someone else is going through,” Hurst wrote in a tweet, the Ravens rookie tight end’s first personal message since the season started. “Everybody fights their own fight. Just know you aren’t alone! Reach out to someone if they are struggling, your words could change a life or save one.”

It is a personal crusade for Hurst. He battled depression and anxiety when he was a minor leaguer in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization. He told Bleacher Report that he would avoid people by staying in his room at the Pirates complex. He would tell his parents everything was fine when he knew it was not.

His uncle and cousin, he said Thursday, died by suicide. Both struggled with depression. Mental health problems run in his family. He said they do not burden him as they once did, but it is a weight that never truly lifts.

“I know it's not really something that you just get over,” he said. “It's always going to be there.”

The NFL and NFL Players Association hosted a symposium on mental health in May that aimed to raise awareness and encourage athletes to seek help and support for their mental well-being. Hurst said professional athletes have become more willing to address their mental health and talk openly about the importance of it. NBA stars Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan last season were widely praised for opening a dialogue about mental health.

“You can't be afraid to talk about it,” Hurst said. “Everyone suffers from it. Like I said in my tweet, everybody fights their own fight. So the more we talk about it, the more comfortable we are with it. I think it's just going to help people.”

He hopes he can help, too. He said Thursday that he and his mother, Cathy, are finalizing the paperwork for a mental health organization tentatively called the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation.

They want to make it easier to do what Hurst struggled with for so long: speaking up, seeking help, being honest when something is wrong.

“We're really excited about it,” he said. “I think, hopefully, we can change some lives.”

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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