Tyrell Zimmerman: A Mission to Address Mental Health and Trauma Among Urban Children


( ENSPIRE Health and Wellness ) Former Pro Footballer Teams Up with the NFL to Focus on Mental Health

ENSPIRE Contributor: Liam Marks

When we think of football, we think of hard-hitting tackles, hard-fought battles between defensive tackles and offensive lines, and the storylines of players coming into the league, but what about their upbringing? Tyrell Zimmerman has made it a point to bring stories like this to the forefront of mental health and well-being. The former defensive lineman for Pace University had decided to focus his energy and work on advocating for disadvantaged and at-risk youth. With the world slowly coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe many of us can relate to the strain on our nerves and mental health the entire ordeal has been. 

Mr. Zimmerman has worked to make progress in tackling mental health challenges through his written work, “Carter, My Dream, My Reality”.​ The story goes into depth on the mental health of kids and shows just how early these types of issues can spawn. The book seeks to be a guiding tool, helping children by promoting healthy coping mechanisms. The book centers on a young black boy, Carter, who is growing up surrounded by violence and other unfortunate circumstances in his neighborhood. He speaks to his mother, who assures him despite it all he will succeed. 

“Carter, My Dream, My Reality” is loosely based on Mr. Zimmerman’s life, “My book really deals with mental health and trauma, and I have been on the front line working to serve the community at large,” Zimmerman said. “Although I have been working on this for some time, since COVID, America has taken the responsibility of dealing more seriously with mental health due to so many kids getting depressed. Now that there is more attention on it, I am using my book to help. I can relate to many of these young people. I grew up in the hood and faced stress and PTSD. This book not only helps the kids but gives parents tools to support their children.” 

ENSPIRE Magazine spoke with Mr.Zimmerman on his book and mental health. 

When did you realize the significance of mental health in the world? 

I realized the significance of mental health when I started seeing how children were being impacted by real traumas and experiences. I realized that there were not many tools and resources to help children as it relates to mental health. 

Can you speak on your personal experience with issues with mental health and how you overcame them/how you currently deal with them?

Mental Health is a very serious topic that we must address, especially in children. Until recently, it was an issue and a topic that was not thoroughly discussed and understood. You can easily find resources to help adults, but with mental health and children, it’s something that most people do not thoroughly comprehend. How I deal with my mental health and mental wellness is by trying to keep a good work-life balance. My faith is very important to me. I try to exercise and eat healthily. I try to connect with positive people and stay in positive environments. I try to live a life of purpose. These things keep me grounded and contribute to my mental well-being.

What was the process of writing the book? From idea to actual finished product? How did you come up with the premise?

Writing my children’s book, “Carter: My Dream, My Reality”, was very simple because all I had to do in the process was to observe the very realities that children are facing. My children’s book talks about realities, like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which is very similar to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that just took place in Uvalde, Texas. Children are facing real-life experiences and my book has been such a huge tool for many people across the world.

What advice would you have for others who are currently going through their own mental issues?

The best advice I can give anyone, young or old, male or female, is to talk to someone. Talking about things that you may be faced with or challenged by. Be honest, and ask for help. We all have tough times and experiences. There is no need to be ashamed and you don’t have to be afraid. Sometimes, just talking about things can provide a little relief besides other resources. 

Can we expect to see any more stories written by you? If so, would they follow a similar concept of mental health or tackle another important issue?

Yes, there are more stories coming. As society progresses and the mental health needs of children continue to increase, I will certainly be here as an advocate, providing tools, resources, education, and stories around this very serious topic.

The book is currently listed in the NFL’s research library for players and their families to use as a support tool. As someone who relates to what it was like to go through similar hardships throughout my youth, with the issues so many young people face in the current state of the country, as Mr. Zimmerman mentioned I hope that a resource like this can help others who go through hard times knowing that there are resources out there to help. You can find Mr. Zimmerman’s book here.

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