Day Family donates $1 million to a mental health fund

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Head coach Ryan Day and his wife Nina on Wednesday donated $1 million to Wexner Medical Center and the Ohio State University College of Medicine to establish the Nina and Ryan Day Resilience Fund, advancing resources dedicated to mental health and young adults to encourage them to address their overall well-being. Photo credit: Jacob Benge | sports editor

Head coach Ryan Day and his wife Nina on Wednesday donated $1 million to Wexner Medical Center and the Ohio State University College of Medicine to establish the Nina and Ryan Day Resilience Fund, advancing resources dedicated to mental health and young adults to encourage them to address their overall well-being.

Along with University President Kristina M. Johnson and others at Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital, Ryan Day said he wants young adults and youth in the state of Ohio and Columbus to be aware of the mental health resources available and to know they are not alone . The fund will be housed in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine in accordance with a press release.

“What is different here are the people we work with every day. These are college-age students. These are adults,” Day said. “Sure, college age, when Nina and I started talking about it, that’s a tough year for a lot of people. This is a tough road for many people and that is why they need the resources. You need to help, but then also identify what those risk factors are. We’d really like to be a part of that [that] to stand in front of it.”

dr K. Luan Phan, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, said the fund will serve as a “catalyst” for discussions about mental health and provide resources for those seeking help.

“Resilience, as Coach Day said, is the ability to recover. Not just to recover, but to learn, adapt, thrive and even get better than before,” Phan said. “As Coach Day knows very well, we can’t always play defensively. We have to go on the offensive and for me the resilience game is really an offensive game.”

Phan said he wants to create a way for individuals to support one another through life’s daily stressors.

“We must fight mental illness just like we fight cancer, just like we fight heart disease, just like we fight any other physical disease,” Phan said. “For us in our department and at Harding Hospital, mental illness and physical illness are one and the same and I think we need to have those kinds of conversations going forward.”

Mental health is an issue close to Ryan Day; His father committed suicide in 1988 when Ryan Day was just 8 years old.

Through conversations with his wife, family and others close to him, the Day family has taken the initiative to help others struggling with mental health issues.

“The hardest point in my life was college — and there were no resources and I was struggling privately,” Nina Day said. “Because I had kids and growing up with Ryan, we just decided how important it was for them to grow up in a different world where they have resources and feel empowered to ask for help if they have any type of fear or… experience depression.”

Both Ryan and Nina Day have spoken publicly about the importance of maintaining overall well-being, including the former delivering a keynote speech on breaking the stigma surrounding mental health In April.

The establishment of the Nina and Ryan Day Resilience Fund demonstrates their continued philanthropy as the Day family has committed to being at the forefront of the mental health discussion by supporting the Ryan and Christina Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Wellness at Nationwide Children’s Hospital established in 2019.

Even though many areas of life seem to be back to “normal” for some in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryan Day said others may still be feeling the effects mentally.

“For many of our teenagers, students and young people, COVID has been normal. It was a big part of her life,” Day said. “I think realizing that, being aware of how they’re going because they’ve really come out of isolation from a lot of them to be back working with people now and really talking about it is the biggest thing. ”

Marchformer offensive lineman Harry Miller retired from football due to issues with his mental health.

Ryan and Nina Day both said investing in mental health resources is a “huge privilege,” particularly in the state of Ohio and the community of Columbus.

Johnson believes the fund is a show of leadership and said offering help and support in the campus community is “powerful.”

“It’s not just a job; it’s a mission. It’s a calling,” Johnson said. “I think we can see it in all of our staff and our faculty that they step up when they can.”

Building resilience is a key focus in the fight against mental health, Ryan Day said. When someone is unwell, they want the individual to feel comfortable finding a confidante or teammate, just like on the soccer field.

“It’s hard right now, but to realize that if you break your leg, there’s a solution — it’s to go in and get a cast and heal it,” Ryan Day said. “If you have a mental illness, it’s similar. It doesn’t seem similar, but it is. There is a solution. There is a treatment. There are different ways that we can handle this type of thing so I just think this approach is hopeful and not where you think there are no answers.

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