Brandon's Blog: Depression is a Serious Disorder
Eric Hipple

Oct. 20, 2011

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

In sports we talk about injuries on a daily basis and today a much needed emphasis is being placed on head injuries.

Athletes will fight through injuries maintaining their 'strong' image battling ailments and personal issues on their own. It is expected.

Depression is another matter. In the world of sports, symptoms of depression carry a certain additional stigma. Athletes are expected to be tough both physically and emotionally.

We can talk about injuries. The assorted traumas are openly discussed. This open dialogue has allowed sports medicine to make great strides understanding how to deal with a multitude of injuries and ailments.

Last Friday, I was given the opportunity to speak at the University of Michigan's Depression Center Annual Board Meeting. I provided some of my own experiences on how leaders create alignment to achieve a vision for their organization. I suggested some management tools and strategies to help accelerate and improve progress as the center enters its second decade of operation.

During that time with the experts working to develop their own strategies to help fight depression, I was reminded how much work we all have to do to fight this disease.

The mental aspect of sports is important and yet mental health is a complex and difficult subject. For some, seeking help for this disease may feel like a sign of weakness.

The recent deaths of some elite athletes have brought about concern and discussion as to how we can prevent serious head injuries. This is needed and long overdue. Depression also needs to be added to this dialogue.

According to a PBS Report "Depression Out of the Shadows," by the year 2020, depression will be the second most common health problem in the world.

A study by Vanderbilt University Medical Center contends 30 percent of individuals who have involved some type of traumatic head injuries will develop depression. Discussing concussions and head injuries moves us towards more research, study and deliberation of this disease.

For athletes, there needs to be much more education. Athletes, especially high-profile athletes, have more susceptibility to suffer depression than the average population.

The presence of former Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple last week at the U-M Depression Center provided me with first-hand knowledge as to why we need to bring depression to the forefront. [ Freeing Eric Hipple ( ]

Hipple is now the outreach coordinator for the U-M Depression Center, spreading the dual message of depression warning signs and suicide prevention. His story is powerful.

Admitting one has depression cannot be considered a sign of weakness. Actually, it is real strength. If those of us involved in athletics can help bring light to this problem, it will be a benefit for all.

I want to congratulate the U-M Depression Center on 10 years of service. Good luck in the future!

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