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Working to help those who need urgent behavioral health services

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This has been a complex endeavor with many different layers and one that’s required countless hours of work — including purchasing and renovating a building, meeting extensively with county, city and community providers and organizations for collaboration, and even taking tours of various other mental health facilities. The existence of the Smith Family BHUC will be possible thanks to our foundation, Mecklenburg County, Alliance Health and our operator, Daymark Recovery Services, a statewide provider of mental health and substance use disorder services. Daymark Recovery Services in Winston-Salem — north of Charlotte — was one of two facilities I toured early on in this process. The other was Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health, which I visited during my time at the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland. Both experiences shifted my perspective and helped me better understand the nuances of opening a facility of this nature.

It really hits home for me as someone who lives with depression, a journey I shared publicly in 2018, and with my mother being a survivor of domestic violence. Since opening up about my own experience, I’ve received an outpouring of support, and this facility allows me to hopefully provide the same for others, especially those without the financial stability to get help. I recently went through the process of seeking new health insurance and discovered not every provider covers mental health services. Fortunately, I have the financial means to obtain the care I need, but what about those who don’t? To see this facility come together over the last two years and knowing how it will help marginalized communities and those impacted by mental health is simply amazing.

The facility is the third major project taken on by our foundation, alongside the Smith Family After School Enrichment Program, which provides support to students in kindergarten through fifth grade facing barriers related to education, and the Smith Family Wellness Center, which is undergoing renovations and will reopen in April to serve uninsured community members with primary care, dental care and some behavioral health services.

I arrived in Charlotte more than two decades ago as the Carolina Panthers’ third-round draft pick in 2001, and the organization and community welcomed a young Utah Ute from Los Angeles with open arms. They gave me so much then and still do today. It’s why my family established our foundation, and it’s why we’ve continued to expand and serve the community that has served us.

Image & Story Credit: nfl.com

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