Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) team Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) joined together to mark Mental Health Awareness Week at Charlotte, North Carolina on October 7th and 8th, 2017.
In the US, NASCAR is second only to American Football as the most popular sport in the country in terms of both television viewers and live spectators. Fans are attracted to the high-octane excitement of watching the cars hurtle along the circuit at speeds in excess of 300 kph (220 mph) sometimes with only a few centimetres between them. Thrills and crashes are common place. There are few people in the world better used to dealing with the acute pressure and stresses of the racetrack than these drivers. Drawing from his experience, CGR's Japanese-American driver Kyle Miyata Larson kicked off a roundtable discussion with Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, Mental Health America, which focused on managing stress, mental illness, and the importance of monitoring mental health.
"I'm proud to be partnering with Otsuka and Mental Health America to raise awareness of mental wellness and to encourage those living with a mental illness to seek treatment and support," said Larson. "I am helping them break the stigma associated with mental health - and remember that mental health is also about dealing with stress, anxiety and depression and many people go untreated or undiagnosed. I am here to help change the status quo and to help reverse the harmful effects of the stigma."
The event also coincided with two days of racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The Otsuka logo featured on both competing CGR cars. After a day of waiting for the rain to stop and the track to dry, fans saw driver Alex Bowman take the chequered flag with his first-time ever win in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race and bring our Otsuka logo along with him for the ride! Larson had less luck in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, was unfortunately hit from behind during the final laps. He persevered nonetheless with sparks flying from the rear but ended with a 10th place finish.
"Overall this was a great weekend for Otsuka and the mental health community," said Kabir Nath, president and CEO, North America Pharmaceutical Business, Otsuka America Inc.
"It was an honor to collaborate with Chip Ganassi Racing, Kyle Larson, and Mental Health America to champion mental wellness. We are excited for the opportunity to reach NASCAR fans and have them join us in our efforts to help drive awareness while reducing the stigma of mental illness."