Monday, June 21, 2021


Mental Health is a thing...not one I suffer from except on a very generic basis like the doldrums. But I'm aware of my mental health and I try to do things that keep me up and avoid the things that bring me down.

Stephen Johns logging miles at Notre Dame where he attended school and played hockey.

Photo credit to Jeff Toates.

It's not so easy for millions of people. Partly because of the nature of their particular circumstance and partly because of the stigma associated with mental health issues. Mental health care should be as much a part of society's routine and lifestyle as standard medical, dental, and vision care.

Mental health issues come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They happen for all kinds of reasons.

Once such reason is injury, especially prevalent in sports. Which gets us to the reason for my post...

A former Dallas Star, Stephen Johns, has been forced to retire from hockey after a hit in March of 2018 that was fatal to his career. As a result of that hit, he's suffered post-traumatic headaches ever since. He was off fans' radars for a good year and half while he tried to recover and tried to find answers. He's recovered enough in that he doesn't need to stay cocooned in darkened rooms any longer to keep the pain bearable. But there have been no answers as to how a normal hockey hit triggered something that Stephen will have to live with forever.

As a result of the pain and anguish for multiple reasons, including having to give up one the things he most loved--his hockey career--he fell into a deep depression. In a few interviews, he's confessed that suicidal thoughts were not uncommon in the darkest days. What's a guy to do when it hurts in myriad ways just to be alive? When the one thing you worked for your whole life is taken away by a fluke of nature?

But Stephen has found a new purpose (at least temporarily)--he's currently inline skating across America from his hometown in Pennsylvania to the Oregon coast in an effort to bring awareness to the importance of mental health.

If you care to follow his journey and/or to signal boost his endeavors, follow him on social media:



His trip is being documented by Jeff Toates, good friend of Stephen's as well as former Dallas Stars media guy (photographer and videographer).

As Robin Williams sadly prophetically said, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always,"


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