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Will Smith Movie Tackles Mental Health Impact of Football Concussions

Posted by Brian Spence on Sep 21, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Mental Health, Concussion, Will SmithIn the past several years more and more people have been questioning the safety of playing American football. Retired NFL players have experienced disturbances in their mental health including severe depression that has led to multiple suicides.

In 2009 GQ magazine released a long and controversial article discussing the long-term brain damage that is associated with the kinds of concussions that are commonly experienced by football players.

A Nigerian doctor discovered a link between repeated concussions and early onset dementia as well as depression.

After the headlines broke, many former NFL players began to sue their player association. However, apart from these lawsuits, very little has changed in regards to player safety for NFL players or college football players.

Now, a film is being released based on the GQ article that first brought the danger of concussions into public light. Will Smith plays the Nigerian doctor, and the hope is that the film will create real and lasting change in American football as it draws more attention to the safety problems.

According to the TakePart article, "Can a Will Smith Movie Make Football Fans Care About Brain Injuries," by Melissa Raywarth.

"If Smith's performance as the crusading doctor is effective enough, it might push the concussion conversation to a level that facts and figures have not. It wouldn't be the first time a film has delivered social change. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that the movie about eating McDonald's for a month, Super Size Me, changed people’s opinions and knowledge about fast food and health. "

The important change may begin on the parent and physician level. If medical professionals can help parents understand the life-altering mental health impacts of multiple concussions, parents may make different activity decisions for their children.


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Topics: Behavioral Health, Mental Health

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