‘The health of black generations is the goal’: This former NFL player launched a mental wellness platform after facing depression following a career-ending injury

It is a story as old as time.

A young boy falls in love with football. Play in high school and college. Then comes his lifelong goal of being drafted into the major leagues. Unfortunately, for Ryan Mundy, his dream unexpectedly turned into a nightmare.

After a successful eight-year professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears and New York Giants, he suffered a serious injury in 2015. It was the beginning of the end of his career as he knew it. .

“I was hurt physically and emotionally, so I left the game injured,” Mundy told ESSENCE. “I have always been a footballer. It made me so much. This has been my life. I left the game so, so hurt, and I was angry, upset, and jaded. That initial transition wasn’t good for me on many levels, and it really set the course for how I got here today.

This path has involved years of deep introspection, therapy and hard truths.

“It took me a while, but I really had to be honest about never being able to play again,” Mundy said. “And it cost me a lot.”

After officially retiring in 2016, Mundy said he found himself at a crossroads filled with endless possibility and limitless fear. Then, when he was in his early thirties, he didn’t know what to do with his life.

“I had to start life over again,” he explained. “So anxiety, depression, identity issues and impostor syndrome set in. It was 2016, 2017, and it wasn’t common for people to talk about mental health back then, and resources weren’t readily available and accessible. So I decided to fix myself and help others do the same.

Mundy underwent psychotherapy and participated in meditation rituals and other homeopathic wellness methods to get her mindset back on track. Along the way, he tapped into his knowledge and launched Alkeme, an online community that provides mental health resources specifically designed for black people.

Inspired by one of his favorite self-help books, The Alchemist, Mundy said he was on a mission to help the black community overcome limiting thought patterns and close access gaps. to health. The Wellness Network offers wellness classes led by therapists and experts, guided meditation sessions and live streaming focused on the black experience.

Now, less than three years after its launch, the company is partnering with McDonald’s to offer a mental health course specifically for HBCU students. Through this partnership, Alkeme will provide all 2023 McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Scholars (McDonald’s HBCU Scholars Program) access to a series of clinical workshops that center the HBCU experience and enable students to achieve their goals. personal, for 1 year.

“Building a community of culturally competent practitioners who truly understand and represent the black experience is important to better meet the needs of black students,” Mundy said. “We want to empower our community to be the best and highest versions of themselves, and that’s why we’re honored to partner with McDonald’s to help break down barriers to mental health for people. HBCU students and providing resources to inspire wellness.”

Beyond Alkeme’s success, Mundy’s said this journey of growth taught him much more about himself than he had imagined.

“I will never stop being an athlete, but I am more than that now. It no longer dominates my life. And it’s a scary proposition, but it’s a beautiful proposition.

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