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A Quarterback’s Anxiety

by Jo Valenti, BSN, RN, Cumberland County Mental Health and Addictions Board

The famous football player Steve Young achieved the pinnacle of success in the NFL. Retiring after 15 seasons, he was a two-time MVP and a Super Bowl Champion. What many people may not know about this very successful athlete is that for the first 30 years of his life, he suffered from severe anxiety.

In his book, QB: My Life Behind the Spiral, Young reveals that as a child he had separation anxiety that prevented him from having a common childhood experience—sleepovers with friends. Later in life, that became performance anxiety. It wasn’t until he retired and married that he finally was able to process his issues and move on. A quote from his book says it all: “The theme—the power of every human being to reconcile with his past—was one that resonated with me in a big way.”

What is the takeaway for us? Despite mental health challenges, a person can have enormous success in life. More importantly, no one should just ‘power through’ being miserable in the meantime. Getting the proper help as early as possible is a key to a better quality of life.

Mental health professionals give people the tools to cope, the knowledge to understand and the ability to change. They help develop a perspective that is vital to all people but especially those who struggle with self-esteem issues that typically accompany mental illness. With so many affected by mental illness today, we all should do what we can to promote mental health by eliminating the stigma that prevents those who need help from getting it in a timely way.

The Cumberland County Mental Health and Addictions Board actively promotes awareness of stigma and the need for public education regarding mental health and addiction. The Board meets monthly, and the public is invited to attend. Please refer to the meeting schedule on the Cumberland County website for meeting dates.

The Board is also seeking new members. Interested persons should send a letter of interest and a resume to Melissa Niles, Cumberland County Human Services, 70 W. Broad St., Bridgeton, NJ 08302 or

NAMI Cumberland County: During the pandemic, NAMI Cumberland County ceased activity. Efforts are now being made to re-activate this affiliate of NAMI. Please join us as we collaborate to bring back this important resource for support of those affected by mental illness and their friends and families. In order to re-activate NAMI Cumberland County, we need two people to be trained in group leadership and at least five persons to regularly attend NAMI monthly meetings. Those interested in assisting these efforts please e-mail NAMI at this address:

Minding Your Mind