Former NFL player tackles mental health with Men of Westfield
Former NFL player opens up about mental health
WESTFIELD, Ind (WISH) — Nick Hardwick, a central Indiana native and former Purdue Boilermaker, recently launched a group called the Men of Westfield.
The group, which began in May, provides a forum for men to open up about their mental health issues.
After a successful career as a center at Purdue, Hardwick played 11 seasons for the San Diego Chargers, and was a team captain for five of those seasons.
“Two months after I retired, I was suicidal, and you think of all the achievements and all the recognition and having made a ton of money, and a beautiful family, and, still, I suffered from mental health issues,” Hardwick said.
Hardwick is an assistant coach on the Westfield High School football team. But like most middle-aged men, he had a difficult time transitioning to a new career once his playing days were over.
“When you are stripped of that identity you have to rebuild yourself, you have to find new passions, new purpose. I think you have to redefine your decision-making corridor,” Hardwick said.
Hardwick said men often suppress their emotions especially when balancing the challenges of work and family life. “For me, the healthier we are as individuals, the healthier we are going to be as dads, as workers, and as people who coach football or whatever we’re into.”
The group recently had its first meeting; about 30 people attended. Hardwick decided to set the tone by sharing his experiences. “I shared and became very vulnerable amongst a bunch of men I didn’t really know. I knew some but didn’t really know a bunch of them, but I think, for me, that’s the best way to build a connection is to become vulnerable to open yourself up.”
The Men of Westfield will meet again at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Motor District, an automobile storage facility in Westfield. It’s northwest of the roundabout at West 176th Street and Ditch Road. Register online to attend the meeting.
At the meeting, donations will be taken to support mental health and food insecurity in the Westfield Washington Schools district.