Harry Miller: The Ohio State lineman who centered mental health in college sports
Columbus, Ohio - The month of May brings more than just flowers after April showers. It's Mental Health Awareness month, encouraging all to prioritize their mental health and self-care, and there are few athletes out there who have centered this message more than Harry Miller of Ohio State.
Like fellow all-stars Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka and Olympic Champion Simone Biles, Miller has already left a mark on mental health in sports that has a good chance of standing the test of time.
A talented Ohio State offensive lineman who played for the winning Big Ten Championship and Sugar Bowl team, he was also a star student who earned Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors during his time.
Still, despite apparently having the sporting world at his feet, he was preparing to give it up entirely – for a serious reason.
In a graphic open letter shared on both his personal Instagram and Twitter accounts on March 10, Miller announced his decision to retire from college football. In the deeply personal statement, the Buckeye recounted how he would push himself to play the game he loved, despite struggling with his mental health.
"I tried my luck at football once again... maybe the scars were hard to see with my wrists taped up," he wrote. "Maybe it was hard to see the scars through the bright colors of the television. Maybe the scars were hard to hear through all the talk shows and interviews."
Battling with the many voices in his head, Miller came to a tipping point – one that gave the courage to reach out and seek help.
Harry Miller found new hope in a dark place
In his best interest, Miller reached out to Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, who immediately had him in touch with his life-changing support system. During the football season, he was working privately to better himself with the sports psychologists at Ohio State.
Since Day was hired, Ohio State has added a dedicated staff to help players with mental health issues.
"When you look at a lot of these young people we are losing, they don’t reach out in those moments and so to try to say it’s okay what you’re feeling that there is help out there," the coach said in an interview with CBS affiliate WBNS 10TV.
Day added that Miller now has a new goal: "Harry has almost repurposed his life to help people in that way. To say it’s okay to ask for help in those moments – half the battle is starting that initial conversation and say, 'Hey, I need some help here.'"
Miller emphasizes love as a way to help others
By leading, Miller emphasizes the act of love as one of the most important ways to help others.
"As people, we have a calling to be kind to our neighbors and talk to them to the people we love and also to strangers," Miller said. "I just hope that speaking more that can sort of put light on that and change what’s being said."
He is now traveling across the country and appearing on various platforms as a spokesperson and mental health advocate, fighting to end the stigma.
This month, Miller is celebrating Mental Health Awareness by supporting the Ohio State University Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health with unique clothing inspired by his own personal story.
Cover photo: Screenshot / Instagram / h_miller76