THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – As someone who has gone on his own mental health journey over the last two years, Jordan Fuller knows the value of that cause – and more importantly, bringing awareness to it.
So when a mentor who works with RADical Hope connected Fuller with the organization, it became the perfect choice for the Rams' defensive back's cause for My Cause My Cleats this year.
"I'm big into mental health, especially after – everybody's journey, you kind of go through something," Fuller told theRams.com this week. "The past couple of years, I've been through a bunch of stuff, and I feel like getting stuff out, talking to people, building connections, building resilience, and also trying to get ahead of stuff while you can I think it is really, really important. Especially for young adults, where they're trying to figure out who they are, and they have a bunch of pressures from maybe family or peers or whatever, it could be a lot. And sometimes when life might not feel like it's going your way, it could be hard. So you want to have those coping mechanisms. Yeah, that's a big thing for me. I know it's helped me a lot, and I just want to be able to help people, you know?"
RADical Hope teams up with colleges, professional sports teams and community organizations across the United States to strengthen connections and build resilience in the lives of young adults. It fully funds the program for every partner to ensure equal access to essential life skills and resources.
The partnership was officially announced by the organization on Nov. 14 and involves Fuller supporting student-athlete mental health, but had been in the works since the summer, when it and Fuller and had a few conversations.
"It was like a mutual thing, mutual vibe that we could do some special things together," Fuller said. "So I feel like this is just the beginning."
According to a release from RADical hope announcing the partnership, a May 2022 study by the NCAA found student-athletes continue to report elevated levels of mental health concerns. Although student-athletes reported lower levels of hopelessness in fall 2021 as compared to the onset of the pandemic, elevated rates of mental exhaustion, anxiety and feelings of being depressed have barely changed since 2020.
Fuller recognizes the urgency of this situation and will "draw from his own experiences to engage young adults" as part of the partnership. He'll also be working with an organization whose signature program, RADical Health, has been tailored to address the experiences of student-athletes. That mission has been furthered by financial and organizational support from the NFL and many of its teams, per RADical Hope.
Fuller has already taken action, too. He attended one event through the organization, and went to his alma mater, Ohio State, to talk with a couple of players about it and toured them around. He also talked to Ohio State players about the importance of mental health. Fuller said other plans with RADical hope are in the works.
When a player chooses a cause, awareness to the corresponding cause or organization is typically the goal. Beyond that, Fuller's goal for the attention generated by his My Cause My Cleats choice is to show the importance of mental health and being vulnerable.
"I think the main thing is just, like, mental health matters, and not being afraid to be vulnerable," Fuller said. "Whether it's outspoken to a mass of people, or just a one-on-one thing, getting that stuff out is is really, really important, and not only just hearing your thoughts. You can kind of go to a dark place if you do that, if you don't have the right coping mechanisms or the right tools. So that's that's my biggest thing. And obviously suicide's been a growing thing. So yeah, just getting ahead of stuff, really, making life more enjoyable for a bunch of us, because we have a lot of things to be grateful for. That's my biggest thing, just enjoying life and giving people the tools to do that."