NAMI, Brandon Marshall Foundation, team up to fight stigma of mental illness

<p>Brandon Marshall at his Brandon Marshall Foundation office in Chicago. | Karie Angell Luc/for Sun-Times Media</p>

Brandon Marshall at his Brandon Marshall Foundation office in Chicago. | Karie Angell Luc/for Sun-Times Media

“The way people think about mental health is CRAZY! That’s why our mission is to end the stigma attached to mental illness, advocate for unprecedented awareness, connect those suffering to resources and paint the world LIME GREEN.”

Those were the words on an oversized chalkboard on April 30 in a fourth floor loft on Ohio Street in Chicago.

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears wide receiver, pointed to the word, “connect.”

“For every one person suffering, it affects six,” said Marshall, discussing mental illness and its repercussions. “It pretty much affects all of us, you know. If it’s not you, it could be a loved one, whether it’s your husband, your wife, your son or your daughter, grandparent, friend, a kid’s friend, it really affects all of us.”

Marshall has borderline personality disorder, which is characterized “by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health (

His personal history of violent incidents, and struggle with BPD inspired Marshall and his wife Michi to launch The Brandon Marshall Foundation in 2010, after he was diagnosed with the condition.

Thanks to treatment, Marshall has moved forward in his life. Explaining that medication has “never been part of my treatment.” Marshall added that he feels blessed if revealing his diagnosis and struggle can help reduce stigma and encourage others to seek treatment, goals he furthers through his foundation.

Today, Marshall is working to grow his foundation nationally. “It’s an exciting time for us,” Marshall said. “We know we have a voice. We believe we can start a lot of discussion (about mental illness) to help people like myself and people like my wife who were affected because her family member, her loved one, was affected by it.”

He spoke of how his foundation has altered his life.

“Now I love football. At one point, that’s all I was, was football. But when you’re walking in your purpose and you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing on Earth, it is the most stimulating and fulfilling that I can’t even describe,” he said.

Working to help others with mental illness, said Marshall, has enriched his life. “It’s definitely a gift. What people need to understand, a lot of times we find our purpose in our pain. You know? So that’s a gift. “It’s what you do with it and the wisdom and understanding that you gain through that process and coming through it with grace and perseverance.”

The Brandon Marshall Foundation is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Cook County North Suburban for a Spring Benefit on May 10 at the Northbrook Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel.

Marshall and his wife will be on hand to underscore their support for the organizations’s goals.

“What’s cool is that this is my therapy, the work that we’re doing, ” said Marshall, of his foundation’s efforts. “So when I’m feeling down, or if there are times I revert back to some of my old ways, you know, our foundation, our office, the partnerships that we’re creating, it holds me accountable. It’s really awesome. It’s like I’m getting therapy 24/7.”

See or

Spring Benefit for National Alliance on Mental Illness Cook County North Suburban/Brandon Marshall Foundation

Northbrook Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel, 933 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook

6:30 p.m. May 10

Tickets $225; VIP tickets, $300, enjoy a cocktail meet and greet with Brandon and Michi Marshall at 5:30 p.m. or (847) 716-2252