Athlete Andrew Loy: Why Young Global Leadership is Critical Today

The Impact of Young Leaders on
Mental Health and Suicide Awareness

According to the National Behavioral Health Council, 64.1% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. One in every five teens and young adults live with a mental health condition. Suicide is the second highest cause of death for fifteen to twenty-four-year old’s in the world. It kills over 800,000 people every year, which is one person every forty seconds.

By Andrew Loy, 2020 Luce 24 Under 24 Award Recipient
The Ohio State University

New York, N.Y.  While I was growing up, mental health was something always swept under the rug.   Everyone knew it was an issue, but nobody ever addressed it. Every day we just lived our lives ignoring the monster that was hiding in the closet. Nobody wanted to address it because it makes people feel uncomfortable to talk about.  If you opened up and tried to talk about it, you weren’t “normal.” So, everyone just lived each day ignoring the fact that we are surrounded by people struggling with depression. 

Suicide Prevention Awareness

For me personally, I wasn’t even aware of it as a kid. At a young age I was always happy and excited about everything. I didn’t notice the darkness in the world, and nobody every pointed it out to me. But I know that not everyone’s childhood was that way. As I got older, I started to notice how much it affected people around me. But I had never been told about mental health issues, and how prevalent they really are. It was just normal for people to have depression and anxiety and never open up about it. I had never been affected by any mental health issues, so I never felt the need to ask about it. 

Halfway through my junior year of high school I knew that one of my best friends was struggling, but I had no idea how to help. I would try and talk to him about it, but it was never clear to me how much he was really struggling. I had never been taught that you shouldn’t just ignore feelings of sadness and depression. Nobody had ever sat me down and pointed out that we should not hide or be afraid of those feelings. 

In January of my junior year, I got a call from my friends’ sister, telling me that one of my best friends had had taken his own life. I remember being so confused, not understanding how this could happen. Ever since that moment, I knew that things needed to change. I knew that losing someone close to you from suicide shouldn’t be normal.  

From the second that we enter this world, everyone is being led by someone. As a young child we are led by our parents, teachers, siblings, role models, or anyone who has a strong impression on our lives. Leaders in our lives can have massive impacts on our mental health, and the way that we view it. Most people would say that their parents or teachers were some of the most impactful leaders in their lives. In the United States, mental health wasn’t taken very seriously by society in the mid 1900’s. 

Growing up in this society forced you to hide your feelings in order to not appear weak of vulnerable.  Many people who developed mental health issues were never helped properly, or even given the chance to open up about their mental health. They were told to “be a man,” or “be tough” instead of being told that it is alright to ask for help when you are struggling. It became the societal norm for people, particularly men, to force down the feelings of depression and anxiety in order to hide them from other people. 

As this generation got older and started having children, they instinctually taught their children the same thing. In the 1980’s, there was a spike in the national suicide rates in the United States. Mental health was still a hidden, closed door issue that was not being openly addressed by strong leaders in society. It was not until the late 90’s and early 2000’s that mental health started to become a more openly discussed issue. Even today there are a lot of stigma’s that still survive in society about mental health. You see on social media people making vague statements about mental health that do not really cut to the issue. 

Suicide Warning signs

What needs to be brought into the light are the facts. According to the National Behavioral Health Council, 64.1% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. One in every five teens and young adults live with a mental health condition. Suicide is the second highest cause of death for fifteen to twenty-four-year old’s in the world. It kills over 800,000 people every year, which is one person every forty seconds. 

Just to put it in perspective, COVID-19 has killed around the same number of people, and it is the biggest issue in the world right now. Suicide kills that many people every year, and it doesn’t receive nearly as much attention. A large part of society treats men’s mental health as a joke, instead of doing what they can to help.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men die by suicide 3.56 times more often than women.  And if we want to change that, society needs to change. Celebrities, politicians, athletes, social media influencers, anyone with an audience needs to work together in order to change that narrative.

That’s where I want to come in. I am not much of a writer, but I hope to use my influence as an athlete to help push the narrative in the right direction. These issues should be at the top of societies priorities, and it’s up to the new generation of young global leaders to put it there.

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Andrew Loy

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Andrew holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration with a focus in marketing from Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business (2020).

He was a four-year Scholar Student Athlete and multiple Dean’s List recipient. Andrew was selected to be mentored by Urban Meyer on leadership and culture through the O.S.U. program Lead Like a Buckeye. He taught skills necessary to develop, implement, and maintain unbreakable culture through leadership.

Andrew is a two-time B1G Ten Individual Champion in Men’s Swimming, a twelve-time NCAA All American Olympic Trials qualifier, a twelve-time finalist at the B1G Ten Swimming and Diving Championships, and a two-time Ohio State Swimming Most Valuable Athlete.

About The J. Luce Foundation
The Mission of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, Inc. (www.LuceFoundation.org) is to support young global leadership impacting positive social change, particularly in the fields of the Arts, Education and Orphan Care. Related charities include Orphans International Worldwide (OIW) and The New York Global Leaders Lions Club, both founded by Jim Luce. 

See:
Luce 24 Under 24 Virtual Awards Ceremony Set For Sept. 24 (9/20)
‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Summer Soirée Set for July 24 at the China Institute (6/19)
J. Luce Foundation Announces First ‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Awards (5/19)
J. Luce Leadership Team Lauded by Forbes, Gates, Ford Foundation (9/18)

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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