BYU’s Tanner Mangum opens up about personal mental health challenges

Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-06 08:28:44-04

PROVO, Utah – Tanner Mangum is the face of BYU football and now he’s lending his voice to an issue close to his heart. The quarterback is sharing his personal struggle with mild depression and anxiety.

Mangum is known for his quick-thinking and grit on the football field, but off the field he suffers from mild depression and anxiety.

The 23-year old opened up about it on Instagram.

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It's Mental Health Awareness Week here at BYU and I want to speak out about something that I consider very personal and real. Not many people know that I suffer from mild depression and anxiety. I take antidepressants every day to help with my condition, have visits with a counselor, and I am not ashamed; on the contrary, I am proud to embrace my own personal journey, accept and love myself — flaws and all. I am grateful to be able to raise my voice, and stand up for those who experience similar struggles. This might be surprising to many, due to my normally optimistic, outgoing, and happy personality, but I hope we can understand that just because someone is beaming brightly on the outside, doesn't mean they are free from their own personal struggles underneath the surface. We are all human, each with unique battles, and I promise that these battles are better fought together, not alone. Mental illness is one of my personal battles and I want to offer my love and support to all those who suffer in one way or another. You are not alone. There is help. Let's focus on accepting and loving one another for who we are and celebrate our humanity. It's a beautiful thing. Let's erase the stigma surrounding mental health. #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness

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Mangum wrote that while he is usually optimistic, outgoing and happy, he, like many people, is battling personal struggles underneath the surface.

He felt compelled to speak out as part of Mental Health Awareness Week at BYU.

“Being a student athlete at BYU, I know lots of eyes are on me,” Mangum said.

Mangum spoke with Fox 13 about his personal journey with mental illness. He said bouts of depression surfaced in high school.

“It’s kinda tough to put in words sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes you just feel down for no reason. You don’t know why you’re feeling down.”

But things really took a toll on him over the past 18 months.

“School and football, relationships can cause a lot of stress, it was all kind of building up on me,” Mangum said.

His parents encouraged him to seek help. He meets with a counselor and takes antidepressants to help with his condition.

“It takes some humility to accept the fact that, you know what, I need some help to get some treatment here, and it’s OK,” Mangum said. “Especially among males, among athletes, there’s a sense of toughness and strength and resilience.”

By speaking out, Mangum hopes to erase the stigma surrounding mental health. With a strong support system of family, friends and teammates, Mangum is feeling more like himself these days, and wants others to know they’re not alone.

“It’s a common thing, more common than we think, and it’s better when we’re together–when we can share and talk about it and not be ashamed and keep it inside,” Mangum said.

Mangum will be participating in several events on the BYU campus this week as part of Mental Health Awareness week. For more information click here.