"My name is Teddy Sourlis and I am the proud CEO & Founder of MEN'S X MENTAL, INC. The idea for this non-profit originated from a class project during my sophomore year at Babson College in the Spring of 2020 where the assignment was to, 'identify a problem in today's society, and create a business idea, or social media account, in order to find a solution.' With some classmates, we identified the issue of men's mental health and the simple basis of our solution was to sell clothing where the profits could benefit mental health organizations throughout the country. Our in-person class experience was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and at the conclusion of the semester, these social media accounts were supposed to be shut down..
While in quarantine, I decided to take this idea a step further in an attempt to truly make a difference in the world. Being an athlete for as long as I can remember, we have always been told to, 'suck it up,' or 'man up,' and while those messages align with how we want to play on the court in being tenacious, gritty, or asserting your own version of the "MAMBA MENTALITY," there will always be a difference between playing tough and taking care of your own mental well-being.
During the pandemic, we saw a heightened increase in mental health issues around the world and 77% of men proved to have increased level of stress through the entirety of the pandemic. Due to COVID-19, the NCAA cancelled, or shortened, many athletic seasons, which forced us all to endure an amount of adversity that we had never seen. Stress levels rose, anxiety was heightened, and more athletes dealt with depression than ever before. Athletes around the country were stripped of their athletic identities, and were forced to look inward searching for answers as to who they chose to be going forward.
I have dealt with my own battles of anxiety and depression throughout the beginning of my college experience after undergoing back-to-back hip surgeries not even a year after winning back-to-back state championships in high school. From my highest moments to my lowest, I felt alone with no light at the end of the tunnel until I took my most courageous act yet in reaching out to talk to someone. I came to realize that it is okay to be vulnerable and it is okay to not be okay. My goal is to ensure that no one ever feels alone and whether I can help one person, or thousands, I can sleep well knowing that MEN'S X MENTAL has made a difference.
We must normalize these conversations into our communities and locker rooms because our struggles are never a weakness, they are a reflection of our strength.