Josh Uche speaks on, shares mental health resources for athletes with Patriots locker room 

A typical Wednesday in the NFL means the page turns to the next game, the next opponent. Local media are asking questions about the Patriots players as they prepare for Sunday, but Josh O’Shea’s press conference took an unexpected, but important, date on October 27.

ESPN’s Mike Reese uploaded a paper that was distributed to both the media and in the Patriots locker room from the Josh O’Shea Foundation with athlete mental health resources. After a kidney injury, O’Shea said he struggled with his mental health. On those tough days, O’Shea realized how important these resources and conversations were to athletes in particular.

“It kind of took me to a dark place,” O’Shea said. “In the process, I said to myself, ‘Man, this is a tough way for athletes to live.’ Athletes need a very easy way to treat and different things. I’ve started jumping on the mental health side of things, which is the kind of thing that has stuck with me since the injury.”

Oshi, whose parents are from Nigeria, said his last name means “mind” in the Igbo language, so being that mental health is the torch he carries, it feels like it.

Whether it’s an injury, keeping them away from the sport they love, a clinical diagnosis or a personal crisis, Uchi said athletes shouldn’t be taught to bury it. More athletes – from Simone Biles to Kevin Love – are talking about what they are dealing with mentally and emotionally. Oche said there is a traditional stigma attached to it for men who play football, but he hopes things will change for the better.

“When you grow up as a male, you’re always told to toughen up, to suck it up and things like that,” O’Shea said. “I’ve seen the NFL take so many different initiatives to make mental health a priority. I feel like the tide is turning, and that stigma is starting to fade a little bit.”

For Ochs, this has become the cornerstone of his foundation, which also aims to help vulnerable youth. Since coming to New England, Uchi said there is a focus on allowing players to explore what interests them outside of football through their work or the Patriots Foundation.

“One of the main things when I got here was just to let you know how many resources there are for any endeavor you are trying to pursue,” Uchi said. “The Patriots did a great job, in my opinion, just letting men know the ways they needed to get something done, whether it was for their organization or their marketing or whatever.”

You can learn more about the Josh Uche Foundation here.

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