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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Former TSN host Michael Landsberg to talk mental health at Essex District High School

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event has been postponed. Date to be determined. We will post the new date, when it is supplied.

by Greg Layson

Photo submitted by Michael Landsberg

When legendary Canadian sports broadcaster Michael Landsberg was a child, growing up in an “amazing house with the most loving parents in the world,” he knew he was different.

“The problem was that I had this thing going on in my head, but I had no idea how to express it,” he said.

“I had these fears. It shaped the decisions I made, the things that I would do. And I just I didn't know how to come out and say, ‘I just worry all the time.’”

Landsberg has anxiety. His battle with depression is constant. As a child, he suffered from emetophobia, the fear of throwing up. It was crippling at times.

“If I would have said that to my parents, they would have been fully supportive, even though, in those times, people didn't talk about this,” the 66-year-old said.

He’s now on a mission to change that.

After hosting TSN’s Off the Record, one of the most iconic sports talk television shows in Canada, he’s become a mental health advocate, letting people of all ages know they aren’t alone.

He’ll be at Essex District High School on October 17 to speak with students at 1pm and then to the general public runs from 6:00 - 7:30 . Admission is free.

“My goal is to talk about it as much as possible, from the deepest part of me, to go as far and to be as revealing as I can, and to show people that I'm not embarrassed to say that my self-esteem gets destroyed by depression,” Landsberg said.

He long felt alone, as if he was the only one on the planet suffering from his symptoms, and that no one else could relate.

He was wrong. And he wants others to know they aren’t alone.

Landsberg admits he never spoke about his illness on TV until October 2009, by chance, he asked a guest about his battles with depression.

“That changed my life,” Landsberg said.

In 2016, he and his daughter launched the Sick Not Weak charity, to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and to tell others “We feel what you feel, and we hurt like you hurt. You are understood.”

Landsberg said had he known as a child that others suffered from the same thoughts and feelings, “that would have changed my life.”

So, he’s now dedicated to changing the lives of others, early.

“One of the reactions that I will get … when I get my speech is: ‘Oh my God, I think you're talking about me,’” Landsberg said. “And Number two is: ‘Wow. I didn't realize that I could actually talk about this without shame and embarrassment.’”

“To get someone to say ‘I feel like I've understood,’ that opens up all kinds of doors.”

He said opening up on television and then on social media – and eventually through his talks – made him realize he “could change people’s lives, perhaps even save them.”

Landsberg said “there's no visible sign” of depression or anxiety.

“You can't do a blood test. You can't do a biopsy. You can't do an X-ray or an MRI. You can't prove that you have the illness,” Landsberg said.

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering.

“It's not like other illnesses. People don't show the outward sign of dying,” Landsberg said. “But this is an urgent matter that has to be dealt with the way we have other illnesses.”


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