The importance of speaking openly about mental health and encouraging others to do the same was a recurring message during The Menninger Clinic’s 12th Annual Signature Luncheon on May 5, 2022, at the Hilton Post Oak hotel. This year’s luncheon was themed “Rewriting the Mental Health Playbook” and featured keynote speaker Charles Haley, an NFL Hall of Fame inductee and former Dallas Cowboys player.

Luncheon donors, sponsors and supporters, who attended in person or through an online live stream, were encouraged to help “tackle” the stigma of mental health that too often prevents people from seeking care. Funds raised will support innovative research at Menninger that focuses on improving mental health diagnosis and treatment, along with education initiatives that keep clinicians at the forefront of the evolving mental health field.  

The luncheon was chaired by noted Houston mental health leaders Kathy Flanagan, MD, and Susan Sportsman, PhD, RN, and honored the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for setting new standards in how law enforcement responds to people with mental health needs. 

“The Menninger Clinic has the responsibility to be a thought leader, educator and innovator for the future of mental health care,” said President and CEO of The Menninger Clinic Armando E. Colombo. “We are committed to reinventing mental health treatment. To begin to solve what we are facing requires innovative, evidence-based treatment and the building of a true continuum of care that allows us to meet our patients and clients where they are.”

Haley was interviewed live on stage by local news anchor ABC-13’s Melanie Lawson. He explained that while on the football field, he struggled with his extreme emotions and that once he retired, he learned he was living with bipolar disorder. Now, as an advocate and MVP for mental health, Haley shared that the moment he accepted that he had a mental illness, his whole life fell into place. 

“Silence is a killer. Being bipolar is something I'm going to deal with for the rest of my life and I'm not ashamed of it,” said Haley. “I take every adversity and turn it into a positive force – I've been through it all and it will never make me hang my head.”