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ted lasso

Believing in the Power of Caring for Your Mental Health

October 29, 2021     By Father Boes

Crisis, education, Mental Health, Self-Calming Tools, Troubled Youth

A person's mental health is so difficult to read. You can look good on the outside but be torn apart on the inside.

Such is the case for the lead character in the Apple TV+ hit comedy-drama series, Ted Lasso. Ted Lasso is played by actor Jason Sudeikis, who won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. The show received an incredible 20 Emmy nominations and won a total of seven Emmys, including the award for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Ted, a successful small college American football coach, takes on a monumental challenge, attempting to coach a sport he knows nothing about – soccer is our term, football for the English, in the UK's Premier League. His lack of knowledge of the sport and its history makes him look like a terrible choice as a coach. But his positive attitude quickly rubs off on his players and all of those around him. Ted tapes a simple hand-written “BELIEVE" sign above the coaches' office door in the team locker room. It becomes a rallying point for the team as the season progresses.

Ted makes everyone around him feel better. His attitude is always positive. He says he doesn't grade his performance by wins and losses, but rather by how he affects the lives of his players and those associated with the team. His constant optimism is impressive.

But inside, Ted is not so well. In fact, he actually accepted the coaching job of the fictional Premier AFC Richmond team to give his wife space back home as they spiraled toward a divorce. He hides sadness, depression and terrible sleeping habits from those closest to him. He suffers from several of the telltale warning signs of mental illness, including a growing use of alcohol, isolation and a messy home as his problems pile up.

It is estimated that around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional.

Ted doesn't believe he needs help either, until he sees the results of what a team psychologist can do for his players. And, after one of his best players goes through a traumatic experience on the pitch (that's English jargon for the playing field).

Dani Rojas is the optimistic player equivalent to Ted when he joins the Richmond team. “Football is life," is his mantra and he is always bubbly and happy – until he kills Earl, the team mascot greyhound, with a potential game-winning penalty kick after the dog escaped from his trainer while chasing a pigeon.

“Football is life" quickly turns to “Football is death" for Dani and he suddenly can't accurately kick a ball anywhere close to a goal. The coaching staff describes Dani's issue as the “Yips," but it is a much deeper problem than that. Dani can't shake the guilt of killing the lovable pooch. Reluctantly, Ted allows a newly hired team psychologist to help Dani get over his problem. The move works triumphantly, and Dani can again boot a ball into the goal. Once again, “Football is life!"

But it's only the beginning for Ted's story. Ted has his own issues, as do several of the other key actors in the series.

The team's owner, Rebecca, is battling being alone after a messy divorce. Ted's top assistant, Coach Beard, has dating and social issues. The team's best player, Jamie Tartt, has been emotionally scarred by his overzealous father. Roy Kent, an aging, irritable midfielder, retires after a knee injury, but finds he misses the game terribly.

Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, the sports psychologist who originally helped Rojas, is now faced with a much larger challenge in getting to the bottom of Ted's problems. Ted is a tough nut to crack, but Dr. Fieldstone finds a way by first confiding in Ted after a potentially serious accident on her bicycle with a motorist. By letting her guard down and admitting how scared she was to Ted, he can see that admitting your fear to another person can actually help you shed emotional baggage that can be stored up inside. Ted ends up doing the same, reluctantly, to Dr. Fieldstone, and it ends up helping him overcome troublesome and embarrassing panic attacks.

According to Kris Hallstrom, Manager of the Boys Town Hotline, sharing your inner feelings with someone can be the best thing you could ever do to alleviate inner pressure.

“Sometimes your cup just gets too full," Hallstrom said. “Everything emotionally builds up inside, and it makes it very difficult to function. Being able to talk to a professional can help, but it doesn't have to be a doctor. It could be a parent, a relative, a friend or a colleague. The key is to talk to someone and share your thoughts and feelings. Pour out some of those problems you have been holding inside and it empties your cup."

From the outside, no one would have ever suspected that Ted had a problem. But after suffering and hiding a panic attack from everyone during a game (Ted originally said it was a “stomach" issue) a local reporter breaks the story from an anonymous source (the plot thickens) that Ted is having some mental health concerns. Thanks to what he has been through with Dr. Fieldstone, Ted doesn't hide from the problem. He admits he is getting help and thus, empties his cup to the team. The results are positive.

The Boys Town National Hotline (800-448-3000) is a free resource and counseling service that assists youth and parents 24/7, year-round, nationwide. It is staffed by specially trained Boys Town counselors. It is accredited by the American Association of Suicidology.

Hallstrom said it is important to remember that it is OK to ask for help. Issues come in many shapes and sizes. She also mentioned that youth can also access Boys Town's “Your Life Your Voice," website, a place where a number of different topics are addressed.

You may be asking yourself, all of these issues hardly sound like something you would find in an award-winning comedy series. That is part of Ted Lasso's masterful writing. The show can make you laugh, but it can also make you cry.

Kinda like real life.

Just remember, many of your concerns can be handled as easily as emptying your cup.

Just BELIEVE!​​​​

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