Herschel Walker, University Behavioral Health of Denton Partner to Raise Awareness, Erase Stigma of Mental Health Disorders

Herschel Walker is leading a nationwide initiative to erase the stigma associated with mental illness. Through his partnership with University Behavioral Health, Walker will become mental health advocate and spokesperson.

Dallas, TX, August 26, 2010 --(PR.com)-- Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, a former Dallas Cowboys running back and one of the top performers in National Football League history, has been named the official spokesman for a special mental health outreach by University Behavioral Health of Denton, an Ascend Health Corporation mental health hospital.

Walker, whose 2008 autobiography, Breaking Free, told the story of how he overcame dissociative identity disorder, is now working with University Behavioral Health in a special initiative to raise awareness of mental health disorders and dispel the stigmas attached to them that keep people – particularly men – from seeking help.

As part of the cooperative effort, University Behavioral Health has instituted a special Breaking Free treatment program. It is a specialized, integrated therapy program that focuses on adults who face multiple mental health disorders or a combination of mental illness and drug or alcohol dependency, also known as co-occurring disorders. Walker will help publicize the University Behavioral Health program in a variety of community-centered outreach efforts connected with his frequent public appearances, as well as in promotional materials including television advertisements.

“There is no better spokesman for the cause of erasing the stigma of mental health treatment among men than Herschel Walker,” said Dr. Nishendu Vasavada, Corporate Medical Director at Ascend Health and the key clinical professional in the University Behavioral Health Breaking Free program. “As a football star and physical fitness aficionado, he is a man’s man, and if he wasn’t afraid to seek help, no man should be.”

Walker, who won a Heisman Trophy as a college player at the University of Georgia before launching his pro football career, is still one of the top all-time performers in the NFL. He gained 18,168 total rushing, receiving, and kickoff return yards over a dozen seasons. Now he is actively involved in the Mixed Martial Arts fighting league competition, with a major bout scheduled for October.

“When I told my story in Breaking Free, it was a great relief to be able to talk openly about my mental health battle,” Walker said. “It was almost as liberating as overcoming my disorder in the first place. This joint initiative with University Behavioral Health will do a lot of good in reaching out to men, and women, who may be resisting the treatment they need because of embarrassment.”

The Breaking Free program is the newest of the specialty programs at University Behavioral Health that have powered the hospital’s growth as part of the Ascend Health Corporation. With facilities in Denton and Carrollton, University Behavioral Health targets active duty military members, as well as veterans, retirees, and their families in its Freedom Care program; women, in the Exclusively Women program, which helps women heal together and develop healthy lifestyles and coping skills to manage their emotional lives; and people of faith, in the Minirth Adult Services program, which merges professional counseling and Biblical principles.

University Behavioral Health serves these segments as well as a broad range of other patients, from children as young as 5 through adolescents, adults, and mature adults. In all its programs, University Behavioral Health relies on evidence-based mental health care, in which evidence gained from scientific methods is applied to medical decision making in order to deliver the most positive outcomes.

Together with Walker, University Behavioral Health hopes to better educate the public about mental health disorders and respective treatment programs to encourage the public to seek help for those in need.

About University Behavioral Health
University Behavioral Health provides a supportive, compassionate, and innovative private healing environment of patient-centered care for patients and their families. It is part of Ascend Health Corporation, a national behavioral healthcare company providing a full range of psychiatric services through private hospitals. University Behavioral Health serves the north Texas-Oklahoma region through hospitals in Denton and Carrollton. Private and confidential assessments are provided at no charge. Visit www.ubhdenton.com for more information.

University Behavioral Health
Kristine Tanzillo