Mental Health Advocate Kaleb Joseph Brings Self Help Tour to Fisher

March 20, 2024

Mental health advocate Kaleb Joseph brings his Self Help Tour to St. John Fisher University, sharing the story of overcoming his own mental health struggles. His talk begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3, in Cleary Family Auditorium in Kearney Hall.

Kaleb Joseph

A former Division I basketball player at Syracuse University, Joseph will share his story of adversity – growing up in dysfunction, facing pressure as a student-athlete, and dealing with addiction. He will share how he turned his pain into purpose to make sure no one feels like they are alone.

“Bringing a speaker like Kaleb to our campus allows for peer-to-peer engagement when it comes to talking about mental health. It is critical that we have these opportunities as Kaleb is also sharing a message of community and connection,” said Rebecca Keiffer, director of Fisher’s Health and Wellness Center, who is sponsoring the event.

Joseph was raised in a dynamic household, one of 11 siblings and the only child between both parents. With the dysfunction this created, he turned to basketball as an escape, seeking approval and stability from coaches and his teammates. His hard work paid off when he received his first Division I scholarship offer as an eighth grader, eventually becoming one of the Top 10 point guard recruits in the country and committing to play at Syracuse University.

As the projected college basketball “freshman of the year,” Joseph faced intense pressure and expectations that proved to be overwhelming. Rather than being a source of joy and excitement, basketball became a source of anxiety and stress. Joseph struggled to cope with the highs and lows of his elite career and began seeking other ways to escape. Unknowingly, he fell into the same pattern of generational trauma that marked his family’s history. Feeling responsible for breaking his family’s generational chains through his success, he became paralyzed by his anxiety to the point that he became afraid to show his face on campus after being named one of Sports Illustrated’s “top 10 most disappointing players” after his freshman season.

When the pain of feeling like he let his family down became insufferable, he sought relief in unhealthy coping mechanisms, ultimately leading to an addiction that went unnoticed by everyone around him. Despite having a degree in healthy lifestyle management and emotional intelligence, Joseph was unable to acknowledge the issues in himself that he had been trying to prevent and heal in other athletes. After hitting rock bottom, he was aided by the help of two former NBA players in recovery who knew the struggles ahead in pursuit of turning his pain into purpose.

Knowing all too well that he is not alone in his experiences and struggles, Joseph now travels across the country sharing his story. Through his Self Help Tour, he passionately helps teams and individual athletes develop the tools necessary to identify, process, and manage their emotions. Through emotional intelligence workshops, life coaching, and coach consulting, he is helping athletes of all ages lean into vulnerability, build self-awareness, and cultivate a sense of identity that can carry them through all of life’s adversities both on and off the court.

Joseph’s talk at Fisher is made possible through donations to the University’s Health and Wellness Center, as well as a partnership with Nazareth University. Joseph will deliver back-to-back talks at both institutions, speaking at Nazareth at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, and at Fisher on Wednesday evening. Both talks are free and open to the public.