- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2023

Actor Jason Sudeikis and the cast of “Ted Lasso” visited the White House on Monday to highlight the importance of checking in with relatives, neighbors and friends as President Biden tries to put mental health on par with physical health and fund new services.

Mr. Sudeikis said Americans of all backgrounds and ideologies know someone who’s struggled or felt isolated and alone, so enhancing mental health should be a bipartisan endeavor.

“It’s one of the many things, believe it or not, that we all have in common as human beings,” Mr. Sudeikis said in the White House briefing room. “It’s something we can all and should talk about with one another — when we’re feeling that way or when we recognize that in someone feeling that way.”

Mr. Sudeikis plays the title character on the hit show, which is about an American college football coach who is tapped to lead an English soccer team, AFC Richmond, and defies expectations by relying on optimism and determination.

Mental health is threaded through the plot of the program, which airs on AppleTV+. For instance, the main character seeks therapy after struggling with panic attacks.

“It’s a big theme of the show, to check in with your neighbor, your coworkers, your friends, your family and ask how they’re doing — and listen, sincerely,” Mr. Sudeikis said ahead of a meeting with Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden has called for increased funding of mental health services and training for behavioral health specialists to fill a shortfall in personnel. He also promoted the launch of the “988” crisis response line that links to a national network of crisis centers.

“Let’s do more on mental health, especially for our children,” Mr. Biden said at this year’s State of the Union address. “When millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma, we owe them greater access to mental health care in their schools.”

Mr. Biden teased the meeting with Mr. Sudeikis late Sunday with a sign above the Oval Office door reading, “Believe,” to mimic the one above the locker room door of the show’s fictional soccer club.

Mr. Sudeikis said Mr. Biden’s team has certain advantages.

“His team is real, our team is make-believe,” Mr. Sudeikis said. “Don’t think I don’t know that.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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