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Former NFL Player visits Valdosta to lift awareness for mental health

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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) – A former skilled NFL football player is on the town to assist raise awareness of mental health issues.

People from all backgrounds can fall victim to mental health. Tra Battle, former pro football player, knows the struggle with suicidal thoughts.

Battle played for the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys and was also a University of Georgia football player.

Tra Battle is a former NFL player for the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys.(Source: WALB)

“Me overcoming my mental health challenges may be summed up in a single word, and its community. I discovered myself within the position that I used to be in because I used to be isolated,” said Battle. “After I took the burden off of me and shared the load. And I believe that’s what’s necessary with anyone experiencing mental health.”

United Way and The Haven raised money at a dinner Thursday night to fight against these issues. The cash raised may help with funding for special programs.

The Haven saw a 25% increase in domestic violence incidents within the last 12 months. They’ve also seen a 90% increase in cases that involved stalking and protective orders.

“Because of ‘Resilient Georgia’ we have now funding to bring mental health awareness and suicide prevention and first responder training into an eight-county area in South Georgia,” said Michael Smith, CEO of United Way Valdosta. “What resources we have now, the problems that South Georgia faces with the dearth of resources and really the notice of mental health and our campaign is ‘it’s alright to not be okay.’”

This is Michael Smith CEO and President of Greater Valdosta United Way.That is Michael Smith CEO and President of Greater Valdosta United Way.(Source: WALB)

State Senator for the Eighth District Ruus Goodman said societies are judged by how we treat the weakest amongst us. He added that the Georgia General Assembly passed a bipartisan bill to deal with mental health across the state.

“This bill was aimed to deal with that. We’re going to require insurance firms to have parody by way of physical illness and mental illness because that’s a part of an individual’s well-being,” said Goodman. “More resources into grants to try to help have more mental health professionals across the state and in addition to get more tools to law enforcement who so often are on the front lines of coping with individuals with mental health.”

This is State Senator Russ Goodman representing the 8th District.That is State Senator Russ Goodman representing the eighth District.(Source: WALB)

Goodman said the nice work that The Haven and United Way are doing is a powerful step forward to guard victims.

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