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Las Vegas Raiders Highlight Employees' Mental Health

from LAS VEGAS (KSNV) - The Las Vegas Raiders are taking care of their employee's body and mind in honor of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

"There's all the statistics out there related to mental health," said Amir Zaffa with the Las Vegas Raiders. "It's problematic."

The Las Vegas Raiders are flipping the script when it comes to addressing mental health, proving strength comes from within.

"The Raiders have been game changers in sports and obviously in the NFL as a whole, and we look to continue those things because, again, this matters," said Zaffa. "Mental health matters."

On Wednesday morning, employees gathered to talk about some very heavy topics with members of the Avery Burton Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes awareness and education when it comes to mental health.

Founder Reggie Burton lost his eldest son Avery to suicide six years ago.

"From the outside looking in, he was ready to achieve his goals," said Reggie Burton. "Until he wasn't."

Burton says his son had just graduated with honors from UNLV, planning on a career in medicine, when he suffered a major depressive episode.

Now he's committed to offering outreach and mental health first aid tips to families, schools, and businesses.

"It's a stigma," said Burton. "The stigma around mental health is something we all need to work to end. And the more companies, organizations like the Raiders that take the lead in opening up these conversations in centering mental health and wellness, the better we'll all be."

As part of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, the foundation is also highlighting a shortage of culturally competent therapists.

Christina Aldan says when it comes to counseling, there is no 'one size fits all' approach, and a patient's background matters.

Her goal is to give people tools to bridge the gap until they can speak to a professional.

Step one is to breathe.

"Once we make the decision to breathe, it's telling our nervous system that we're willing to calm down," said Christina Aldan, Board member of the Avery Burton Foundation. "That's the magic of the moment. If we can exhale for 90 seconds, slowly, it changes the biochemistry, and so that helps our nervous system calm down."

The foundation is also hoping at least one NFL player will wear its message on this season's cleats.

"The Avery quote, which is, 'I don't have weekdays in my calendar, only strong days,'" said Burton.

Something the league allows in their campaign: 'My cause my cleats,' highlighting nonprofits a player supports.

As for his work helping others, Burton knows his son would approve.

"I know he would be super proud," said Burton. "This is something that would be consistent with his personality with his desire to help others through being a doctor of therapy right. So we're getting the chance to do that for him."

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