By Brett Williams, NASM
This morning, CrossFit CEO and owner Eric Roza sent a message to the company’s employees to address a serious topic: he recently spent some time away from his role at the head of the fitness giant to address his mental health.
“As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been around as much as usual over the past few weeks, and I wanted to share the reason why,” Roza wrote. “I have been taking some time to seek treatment for depression.”
But Roza’s missive wasn’t focused solely on addressing the reasons for his absence from the company. He went on to provide some larger context to the condition, citing statistics about depression in the U.S. and advocating for increased awareness about mental health issues, both within the company and outside of it.
“While it is uncomfortable for me to be this transparent about my journey, I’ve decided to discuss this openly rather than avoiding these tough conversations, so my experience can help destigmatize mental health issues and foster healing,” he wrote.
The message, which was obtained by Men’s Health and verified by a CrossFit spokesperson, was then forwarded to CrossFit’s estimated 14,000 affiliate gym owners with a separate note:
Dear Affiliate Owners,
I wanted to share an update email that I sent to the CrossFit employee team this morning about my journey and our plans to further address mental health issues. Thank you for everything you do to support your members facing these challenges.
A CrossFit spokesperson had no specific updates about the company’s mental health initiatives, but said in an email that they will have “more to share in future about the plans referenced in the letter to bring the CrossFit community together to further address these issues.”
The full text of Roza’s message is below:
As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been around as much as usual over the past few weeks, and I wanted to share the reason why. I have been taking some time to seek treatment for depression.
Nearly 300 million people suffer from depression, and COVID has accelerated this global crisis, with depression rates tripling in the US. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide, and it has hit close to home for far too many of us, including those in the CrossFit Home Office, following the death of Chad Peyton earlier this year.
Heredity is one of depression’s leading causes. My father struggled with depression in silence with limited treatment options and significant cultural stigma throughout his life. I have a lot to be thankful for, but I have not been spared some of the challenges he faced.
While it is uncomfortable for me to be this transparent about my journey, I’ve decided to discuss this openly rather than avoiding these tough conversations, so my experience can help destigmatize mental health issues and foster healing.
There are many others who continue to struggle in shame or silence, so if you or someone in your life is dealing with depression, please don’t wait to ask for or provide help. Reach out to your manager or our HR team, so we can support you and help you get the resources you need.
More broadly, I am grateful for the role that CrossFit has played in assisting those dealing with conditions such as depression, PTSD, addiction, and anxiety, and I look forward to building on that work together. There are endless examples of CrossFit’s positive impact on mental health in gyms around the world, and I have personally benefited from both the workouts and the support of the community during my own journey. In addition, events such as last weekend’s Chad 1000x help raise both funds and awareness for impacted members of our community.
On a personal level, I want to thank you for your commitment to CrossFit, your friendship, and your hard work. These last few weeks have reinforced how strong our team is — leaders stepped up immediately, and we didn’t miss a beat.
While the path is not always easy, I’m feeling positive about my progress, and I will be increasingly engaged over the coming weeks. In the interim, I deeply appreciate your support, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, help is available. Please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7 confidential support from a trained Lifeline telephone crisis supporter.
This article first appeared in Men’s Health US.