SportsJam with Doug Doyle: Eric Kussin is Changing the Global View of Mental Health

Mar 9, 2020

The SameHere hand signal symbolizes Eric Kussin's message that everyone's mental health is affected by life's inevitable traumas and losses
Credit Doug Doyle for WBGO

We’re All A Little "Crazy" is a non-profit organization founded by 15-year professional sports executive, Eric Kussin.

Kussin brings together athletes, entertainers and expert practitioners with hopes of changing the global conversation about mental health through advocacy and knowledge. 

Kussin sat down in Manhattan with SportsJam host Doug Doyle to talk about his message, his family and why he's involved with the screening of the new movie The Way Back starring Ben Affleck.

After a successful career that started at the NBA League Office, and led to senior management positions with a number of professional sports teams, Eric's mental health took a sudden and rapid decline. He wasn't able to work.  Due to unresolved personal life traumas that he failed to appropriately address at a younger age, Kussin was unaware how that was affecting his mental health.  He was suffering from anxiety and depression and it became impossible to do anything.

"I essentially laid in bed for two and a half years waiting for combinations of magic pills to kick in a get me better.  I didn't watch TV.  I didn't listen to the radio because I didn't have interest.  I barely ate.  I was living in my parent's house where I grew up in a twin bed because I had no other place to go.  I was not a functional human being for those two and a half years."

Kussin eventually found out that he had developed a severe case of PTSD.  That diagnosis came from a woman who was running a continuing education course called Intergrative Breathing Practices.  His brother was treated twice for leukemia.  His father donated a kidney to his brother.  But that wasn't all.  Within the next year, three of Kussin's close friends passed away from heart conditions.

"She jumped at me and said Eric you have PTSD."

Kussin says he started to think who doesn't have a mental complication.

"Because we all deal with things like job loss, breakups, divorces , bullying, cyber bullying, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and that's just the beginning of the list."

Breathing practices eventually helped Kussin return to a health lifestyle.  He posted his story on social media and the response was tremendous from others who had experienced some sort of mental health crisis.

Eric Kussin's non-profit organization started after his two-and-a half year battle with anxiety and depression

Kussin, a graduate of Bellmore JFK High School in New York, says that's why he started the organization We're All A Little "Crazy" and the SameHere movement.   He has become a mental health advocate and keynote speaker,  determined to spread his message: that EVERYONE in the world is affected by life's inevitable traumas and losses.

"The thread to that ties human experience together is that we all go through challenges.  Those challenges are slighly unique to all of us but there's similarities with them.  We obsess over those challenges.  Some of us more than others and that changes our system over time."

Eric Kussin's non profit organization has the support of many top athletes like former NHL star Theo Fleury, Olympic champion swimmer Amanda Beard and former Mets and Yankees pitcher Dwight Gooden

It wasn't an easy decision for him to give up to not return to being a sports executive.  However he used his connections to help grow awareness of mental health issues.  Such sports stars like former Mets and Yankees pitcher Dwight "Doc" Gooden, Olympic Swimming Champion Amanda Beard and former NHL forward Theo Fleury have all supported the cause.

"I was able to justify in my mind that maybe I went through this experience, maybe I worked in sports to be able to build these relationships so I could help get this message on a larger platform."

Kussin says he's been involved with teaming up at the screenings of the new movie The Way Back featuring Ben Affleck.  Affleck portrays a a basketball coach who deals with various problems. 

"It's about the challenging life experiences this coach has faced.  The theme of this movie fits so well with stories of what all these athletes are sharing."

Click above and hear the entire interview on SportsJam with Doug Doyle.