St. Louis CITY SC Expands “Tackle the Struggle” Initiative as Part of Mental Health Awareness Month


May 11th Match to Focus on Mental Health, Highlight Purina’s Pet Therapy Program

With May as Mental Health Awareness Month, St. Louis CITY SC is continuing its mission to fight the stigma around mental health. Guided by the club’s “Tackle the Struggle" platform, which connects people in the region to local mental health resources, the club is leading mental-health focused initiatives throughout May, including special activities during its May 11th home at CITYPARK match against the Chicago Fire.

“We realize that mental health is a serious issue for many people, and we want to do our part to help break the taboo around mental health support in professional sports and in our community,” said Carolyn Kindle, St. Louis CITY SC’s CEO. “All of us need different tools to tackle our mental health struggles, and we want to provide our fans – and really, everyone throughout our region – with as many resources as we can to support them and their families. Mental health struggles unite us all.”

May 11th Home Match Activities

As Founding Partner, Purina is sponsoring the May 11th match to highlight mental health and the power of pets on mental wellbeing. The match will include a number of special activations, including:

  • When CITYPARK gates open at 6:00 p.m., therapy dogs from Purina and its partner Duo Dogs will be inside the stadium’s four main gates, so fans entering the stadium can see pet therapy in action. Additionally, at each gate, every ticketed fan will receive a mental health journal and book clip courtesy of Purina. “Purina truly believes that people and pets are better together and research shows that pet therapy can make a real difference for those struggling with mental health issues,” said Dr. Julie Spears, senior manager, Purina, and certified Touch Therapy dog handler. “We look forward to showing soccer fans the healing power of pets in action at the CITY SC match on May 11.”
  • At the pre-match CITY Block Party, which begins at 4:00 p.m. on Lou Fusz Plaza, fans can join the club in celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing words of encouragement and inspiration to others or signing their name on a special Tackle the Struggle banner. This banner will be displayed during the match.
  • The CITY Block Party will feature live performances from DJ Mahf, Homegrown artist Lani Rose, and headliner Thomas Day. Also on the plaza, Purina will host an adoption event with dogs from Gateway Pet Guardians.

“Tackle the Struggle” Voices

As part of its “Tackle the Struggle” platform, CITY SC is amplifying a number of individuals within the club who have been willing to share their experiences with mental health, how they overcome challenges or their advice in tackling the struggle:

Roman Bürki, Goalkeeper: “It’s a lot of pressure to play in front of so many fans. You care about them and you want to see them happy. Then you make a mistake that you think everybody’s pointing out, but it’s not ever the case.”

Dr. Greg Young, Director of Mental Performance: “Our best tool is self-talk, which is basically the voice we have in our head. … Examine the contents of self-talk and think, ‘Is this helpful for me in this moment or is this actually unhelpful and stopping me with what I want to do?’ If you have that awareness, you’re more able to more align your internal dialogue to that more positive and productive self-talk.”

Kristin Mosley, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging: “Therapy has helped me have more of an awareness of self. It puts the mirror on you and offers the space to safely talk about your traumas and the things you’ve been through. It’s better to get that out versus holding it in, especially for women. … As a Black woman, we are always told to be strong and we’re not supposed to be vulnerable, and we’ve got to keep pushing. To me, that does not serve any of us. We need to get it out. And that’s what therapy has provided for me – the space to get it out.”

Mike Otten, Director of Security: “I lost my 23-year-old nephew to suicide in 2013. He was the fourth member of my family to die by suicide. With his death, it drove home the point that you really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes with any individual. And it made me and my entire family open our eyes to mental health.”

CITY SC encourages its fans to share their own mental health stories using the hashtag #TackleTheStruggle to do their part to destigmatize mental health challenge and normalize seeking help and treatment.

Additional Programming

Later this month, CITY SC ‘s Director of Mental Performance, Dr. Greg Young, and Purina will lead a fan-focused workshop at CITYPARK, where both will share their expertise in the mental performance and mental health space. More information about this free workshop, including how to get tickets (limited quantities will be available), will be shared on CITY SC’s social media channels (@stlcitysc) and at www.stlcitysc.com.

About Tackle the Struggle

Tackle the Struggle was born during CITY SC’s July 2023 match versus LAFC in Los Angeles. Members of CITY SC had a chance encounter with Brian Taylor, a St. Louis native and LAFC fan who was fully decked out in CITY gear at the match. Brian explained he recently lost his son, Clayton, a CITY SC fan, after Clayton’s long struggle with mental health, and he wears the gear of Clayton’s favorite team in his honor. Inspired to take action, CITY SC launched www.tacklethestruggle.org to share stories like Brain and Clayton’s and connect St. Louisans to local mental health resources. According to the CDC, More than one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness, and studies have shown that up to 35% of elite athletes may have a mental health condition.