On the right is Harry Miller giving his valedictorian speech during his graduation ceremony at Buford High School. On the left Harry speaks on his experience with mental health issues. Photos courtesy of Kris Miller.

By Kristina Miller, Vice President & Director at Don’t Make It Weird, Inc.

Harry Miller appeared to have it all. The 2019 graduate of Buford High School (Georgia) was the valedictorian of his class, a missionary who serves on the board of “Mission For Nicaragua,” and a “Five Star” football recruit who had full scholarship offers to nearly every top football program in the country. Ultimately, he chose to play at THE Ohio State University where he saw time on the field playing as a freshman and would soon be interviewing agents who wanted to represent him in the NFL draft as a high-round pick. All was going as planned, or so everyone thought. Late in the evening on a warm August night in 2021, Harry would make a call to his mother that changed the trajectory of all their lives forever with five words, “I can’t do this anymore.” The following day after speaking to his Head Coach Ryan Day, telling him about his overwhelming desire and intent to take his life, he received the help he desperately needed. Like any other injury or illness, Harry began working with professionals to help heal from an illness that no one else could see, but everyone was talking about, “Where is Harry Miller?” After quietly sitting out of the 2021 season with much speculation as to his whereabouts Harry decided it was time to put an end to the false narratives circulating and tell his story by announcing his medical retirement from football. His statement caught the hearts of the country, and he was instantly catapulted into a newer, more important role, Mental Health Advocate. His mission is simple, to break the stigma surrounding mental illness by raising awareness and education, using the motto, “Don’t Make It Weird”, talk about mental health. Harry recently graduated THE Ohio State University, Summa Cum Laude , with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He now travels the country sharing his story and raising awareness about Mental Health while breaking the stigma attached to Mental Illness. He has also traveled to Washington D.C. to create and support policy and legislation such as the TEAMS Act, requiring coaches be adequately trained in signs and symptoms of Mental Illness, as well as finding resources to help the student-athlete, among other initiatives.

Locally, very soon after Harry announced his retirement, Harry’s mother, Kristina Miller, CPS-P (Certified Peer Specialist-Parent) was overwhelmed by the parents of children and young adults in the community who were suffering in silence, alone. No more! From that realization,  “Don’t Make It Weird”, a nonprofit organization was born and is working to continue the conversation about Mental Health, breaking stigmas.

Don’t Make It Weird, Inc. is a proud sponsor of Buford lacrosse. Photo courtesy of Kris Miller.

DMIW.org offers:

  • Monthly support group for family members of those living with Mental Illness, 2nd Wednesday of each month, locations TBD.
  • Free Bi-monthly Classes such as QPR – Suicide Prevention Training, IEP/504 Education and Support, and Teen Mental Health Support.
  • High School Sports Sponsorships with Banners on Fields
  • Billboards
  • Private Peer Support
  • Resources
  • Shared Lived Experience
  • Community Service Projects
Don’t Make It Weird offers classes on suicide prevention. Photo courtesy of Kris Miller.

Currently, DMIW has been meeting at different locations thanks to the kindness of strangers who also believe in our mission and who donated their conference space for 3 hours. While DMIW is still very new, the need is great and what we would love to see happen is to establish a home base in Buford to serve and support the community. A place where not only the meetings and classes could take place, but also a place to come for a cup of coffee or a bottle of water while talking with someone who understands exactly what you’re going through, peer support. We are currently looking for a 500-1,000 sq. ft. office or warehouse space to be a regular presence and resource in the Buford Community.

For more information about us and what we have been doing, or to see the media releases of Harry’s interviews and talks, please visit DMIW.org.

Most importantly, if you or someone you love needs immediate help, dial 988, Suicide Hotline.

Together we will break the stigma so everyone who needs help is no longer ashamed of being ill.

“Don’t Make It Weird”, talk about mental health.

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