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Maintaining my mental health through healthy relationships: The importance of having a team you can trust on and off the field

Published on May 02, 2023

As a professional athlete, my health is always top of my mind, as I need to make sure that I am always game day ready and prepared for my team and those who count on me. Preparation starts immediately after a game ends; I quickly readjust my mindset for the next game. The season becomes a grueling 18 weeks of physical stamina, resilience and sheer grit to keep my body in shape and healthy. However, beyond the physical preparation, there is a mental component to my regimen that is fueled by the relationships I have and those who are around me.

Number one is my family. I look to my wife, Heather, for guidance and support when games are lost or if I have had a tough day of training. Heather brings me calmness and is my anchor. As a father, I am also fortunate to have four active, healthy children who bring me joy. Together, they are the team that rejuvenates me and reminds me that beyond football, there are people who love me and will always have my back.

Derek Carr and family
Pro quarterback Derek Carr and his family

Although I have transitioned to a new football team, my former teammates are like brothers – the trust and friendships that have been nourished will never change. With a new team, I look forward to building new relationships and forging a support system we can all count on, on and off the field.

An essential part of being on a team – whether it is a football team or with my family – is communication. As a professional athlete, I am in constant communication with my teammates to ensure that we are always on the same page. When it comes to my family, I make sure to always “check in” and be present with my wife and children so they know they can always come to me. No one can succeed in life without the connections we have with our family, friends and colleagues, and communication – lots of it – is the tool that allows me to nurture these relationships.

Guiding me through it all is my faith that keeps me grounded and whole. It centers my entire day and helps me navigate the decisions I make. When I sense any doubt entering my mind, I pray and ask for strength and courage.

We all have struggles in life, and I am no different. So whoever your “team” may be, make sure to build those relationships and foster them through encouragement, trust and love. For me, these relationships are as essential to my mental health as rigorous training is to my physical health.


360me: Care for All of Me

Valley Children’s 360me initiative was established to help families, schools and communities safeguard children’s physical and mental health. It is an important reminder to engage children in conversation about how they’re feeling – a proven foundation for a lifetime of mental wellness. Look to 360me for resources to help you recognize and understand the many connections between mental and physical wellness and to reduce the stigma society incorrectly associates with mental health. Learn more and access a mental health toolkit for kids here >>