The Atlanta Falcons tight end is using his platform to raise awareness of mental health issues in children, build programs to help them cope with trauma and inspire others to get the help they need to achieve mental wellness.


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Brandon Parker, Senior Communications Manager




WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hayden Hurst has been named Week 13 NFLPA Community MVP after he publicly shared his battle with depression, leading to more than $45,000 being raised to implement mental health programs in schools and more than 50 people being referred to treatment facilities for help.

“I’m honored to receive the NFLPA Community MVP award for Week 13,” said the Atlanta Falcons tight end. “The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation works tirelessly each and every day to raise funds for outpatient facilities dealing with mental health and suicide prevention, as well as implementing a social and emotional learning program in schools across Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia.”

In a video and article posted on the Atlanta Falcons website on December 3, Hurst spoke about his struggle with depression, the misuse of substances and his attempted suicide in 2016. The video has been viewed nearly seven million times on the Falcons platform alone and reshared by countless others. While this is not the first time that Hurst has shared his inspiring testimony, the courage shown in this instance helped empower those experiencing similar struggles that “it’s okay not to be okay.”

The flood of support during the past week has generated more than $45,000 in donations to the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation, which raises awareness of mental health issues in children and adolescents by funding mental health services and programs. A portion of the funds was used to refer more than 50 people to partnered treatment facilities to improve their mental wellness. The other funds will go toward implementing a social and emotional learning program called In Focus into local schools, grades K-8, across Georgia (his current team state), Maryland (his former team state while with the Baltimore Ravens) and South Carolina (where he played college football).

“We truly want to make a difference by providing funds for our community to help teach adolescents the proper tools to cope with trauma,” said Hurst, whose foundation currently funds In Focus for five schools.

While in Baltimore, Hurst raised $45,000 for mental health programs, which helped provide 81 therapy sessions for 20 students from inner-city schools in partnership with Better Tomorrow Starts Today. In September he donated $3,000 to a couple in Columbia, SC whose dog needed emergency surgery that they could not afford. And earlier this year, he held the inaugural Hayden Hurst Family Foundation Golf Tournament, raising $30,000 for the Youth Crisis Center in Jacksonville, Florida to help support its mission of breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness.

In honor of Hurst being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation. Also, our supporting partner Pledge It has set up a crowdfunding campaign to benefit his non-profit. Supporters can make a flat donation at the following website:

Make A Pledge

Hurst, along with the other 2020 Community MVPs, will become eligible for this year’s Alan Page Community Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.

The NFLPA Community MVP program recognizes NFL players who are making a positive impact in their hometowns and team cities. Each week during the regular season, the NFLPA will celebrate one player who has demonstrated a commitment to giving back to his community. Please visit our website to learn more about the program.

2020 NFLPA Community MVP winners:
Week 0: Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans
Week 1: Cam Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 2: Rodney McLeod, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 3: Landon Collins, Washington Football Team
Week 4: Oren Burks, Green Bay Packers
Week 5: Harrison Phillips, Buffalo Bill
Week 6: Derrick Brown, Carolina Panthers
Week 7: Shawn Williams, Cincinnati Bengals
Week 8: Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 9: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Week 10: Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers
Week 11: Malcom Butler, Tennessee Titans
Week 12: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals


About the NFL Players Association:

The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through the 2030 season. Learn more at