Professional sports provide many with a form of escape from their daily lives. It sparks debates, brings people of different backgrounds together and helps fulfills the competitive drive within many.
With the NFL, NBA and MLB generating billions in revenue annually and player contracts the most lucrative they’ve ever been, it’s easy to view the lives of professional athletes as those of little-to-no worries. What’s often not given the attention as the dollar amount of their contracts are the demands placed on them by those contracts, family needs, already suppressed mental issues, and the pressures that come with a life in the public eye.
A Focus on Mental Wellness
There has been recent progress made in professional sports on the handling and addressing of mental health issues. National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts recently revealed that the NBA and the NBPA are creating a mental wellness program for players.
In an interview with SB Nation, Roberts said “Everyone makes much ado about physical health and making sure these athletes are able to stay injury free so they can play. It’s been preposterous not to realize that mental wellness needed to be given attention.”
Roberts also called it “a shame” that mental wellness in the NBA has been overlooked.
Players Speaking Out on Their Issues
Just recently, Toronto Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan went public in acknowledging he suffers from depression. His admission led to Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Kevin Love to open up about his own mental health issues in an essay published on The Player’s Tribune titled “Everyone Is Going Through Something.”
One in four adults has a mental health condition. That’s over 60 million Americans and 56 percent of American adults with mental illness do not receive treatment even with more having access to services.
Considering that many players that enter the NBA are as young as 18 when they are drafted, the pressure that comes with the weight of expectations both personally and professionally can wear on any young adult.
Perhaps the most prevalent aspects of the program, according to Roberts, is that it would be completely independent and separate from teams, the NBA and the NBPA. This would give players privacy to help receive the treatment they need without fear of any personal information being shared by organizations.
The productivity of each player on the roster is essential to the success of any franchise. Making strides to assure that they have the proper attention off the court to be at their best is just as important as having the best to help develop their skills on the court. The program isn’t yet fully in place but it’s another example of an industry placing a concentrated effort on the wellness and wellbeing of their employees.