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NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall received the 2018 McLean Award at the hospital’s annual dinner on June 1. McLean President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD, donned a Seattle Seahawks cap in homage to the breaking news that Marshall had just been drafted to the Seattle team. Rauch made this exciting announcement while acknowledging that it meant Marshall was unable to accept the McLean Award in person.
The “good news” was that Marshall’s wife and partner in mental health advocacy, Michi Marshall, was there to accept the award on his behalf and share her perspectives about their family’s dedication to mental health.
Rauch, after teasing Marshall about his career playing only for rivals of the New England Patriots, spoke admiringly of the athlete’s career and his status as “one of the toughest guys in the NFL.”
“We honor him not because of his incredible prowess as an NFL wide receiver,” said Rauch. “Tonight, we recognize Brandon for the meaningful mark he has made on the world of behavioral and mental health. Brandon faced his diagnosis with courage and turned his experience into a transformational public service.”
In 2011, Marshall made public his diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and the treatment he received at McLean. The experience inspired the Marshalls to establish a foundation, Project 375, and dedicate themselves to eliminating the stigma of mental illness through honest and open dialogue. Project 375 provides “first aid training” in mental health with the goal of illuminating risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in youth, promoting early intervention, and teaching others how to help an adolescent in crisis.
In a moving video message from Seattle, Marshall acknowledged that the disorder nearly cost him his career, his family, and his life. Noting that his decision to get treatment at McLean was the best decision he’d ever made, he paid special tribute to renowned psychiatrist and BPD pioneer Dr. John Gunderson, who retired at the end of June.
Dr. Gunderson is internationally renowned for shaping the way BPD is understood, diagnosed and treated. He was recognized with a standing ovation throughout the ballroom of more than 360 guests.
Michi Marshall addressed the audience, speaking eloquently about her husband’s battle with mental illness and their gratitude for the help they received along the way, before accepting the 2018 McLean Award on his behalf. Vallone thanked her for her inspirational words and commended the couple’s important work with Project 375. Newly appointed Chair of the McLean Board of Trustees Carol Vallone spoke about the hospital’s expanding global presence and acknowledged the long and dedicated service of former Board Chair David Barlow. She noted his tenure as being marked by humanity, integrity, devotion, and tremendous progress. Barlow received the second standing ovation of the night.
The McLean Award is given annually to an individual who has substantially raised public awareness and furthered the public’s understanding of behavioral and mental health issues. Previous recipients of the McLean Award are: