Original Article on TechCrunch.com
New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall paid a visit to Silicon Valley this week to explore opportunities and potential partnerships with tech companies around mental health issues. Part of the reason for his visit was because, in 2011, Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. He spent three months in an outpatient program and now recognizes that what he went through wasn’t unique.
“They’re universal issues — things we go through just as young adults trying to find ourselves and navigate through the world and with all of the stresses and challenges,” Marshall told me.
Since his diagnosis, Marshall has wanted to use his celebrity status to raise awareness about mental health issues, which are still, unfortunately, stigmatized in our society. That’s ultimately the impetus for Project 375, co-founded by Marshall and his wife, Michi Marshall. With Project 375, the goal is to raise awareness around mental health issues — something one in five adults in America experienced last year, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
“I always say, football is my platform, not my purpose,” Marshall said. “There’s a unique opportunity where there’s 100 million avid football fans that I can speak to and talk to every single day because they follow football.”
To date, Project 375 has partnered with Chicago Public Schools to offer behavioral health services to all students in the public school system. It has also committed to investing $1 million to McLean Hospital — where Marshall went for an outpatient program — to fund a residential program for young men with emerging borderline personality disorder. Project 375’s current tech-based initiatives include an e-newsletter, an online storytelling platform for people with mental health issues, and some support for text messaging. So, right now, it’s pretty low-tech.
“To be honest, we really haven’t been progressive or adopted technology the way we should have,” Marshall said. “That’s why we’re here now.”