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Cowboys QB Dak Prescott talks openly on mental health

In the aftermath of his brother's suicide and his mother's battle with cancer, Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Dak Prescott was candid about his own bout with anxiety and depression, while urging others to talk openly about an often difficult topic.

"I think that is important to be vulnerable, to be genuine and to be transparent," Prescott said in an interview earlier this year for "In Depth With Graham Bensinger" that was recently released. "That goes a long way when you are a leader and your voice is being heard by so many and you can inspire."

Mental health is an issue often cast aside or ignored by many who doubt its legitimacy or severity. Others realize it for the overwhelming and often suffocating illness it is.

Superstar quarterback or not, Prescott bravely announced himself as being among the latter with heartfelt and poignant words on Thursday.

Having previously taped the interview for "In Depth With Graham Bensinger," excerpts have been released and Prescott spoke candidly with reporters regarding them, along with his brother Jace committing suicide, his mother's battle with colon cancer and the toll it took upon him and that during the COVID-19 pandemic he's had his own struggles with depression.

"It creates new emotions -- emotions that I've never felt before but obviously dealt with," Prescott said about dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic, per the team website. "And I obviously got the help that I needed and was very open about it. I think that's why I was fortunate enough to get over it, as not all of us are."

Being able to talk about his issues in the past was one of the prevailing reasons he believes he's in a better place mentally now.

It's also a reason he advocates for more people opening up.

"I think it's huge," Prescott said. "I think it's huge to talk. I think it's huge to get help. And it saves lives."

More than 48,000 people die from suicide each year in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

During his interview with Bensinger, he revealed that throughout the quarantine, he began experiencing anxiety and depression in the days before his brother's death. Furthermore, he did not know how to process them or work through them, with sleep rarely coming.

Eventually, simply talking about the problems he was dealing with proved to be the best remedy.

"If I wouldn't have talked about those things to the people I did, I wouldn't have realized my friends and a lot more people go through them -- and they are as common as they are," he said.

Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness -- 46.6 million during 2017 -- per the NIMH.

A leader on the field for the Cowboys, Prescott was open in a way many athletes are still wary of being. Perhaps his words can lead others off the field in an area of need overlooked for far too long.

For anyone interested in mental health issues or experiencing problems, visit the National Institute of Mental Health website. For those in need of immediate help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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