Teams will be required to have licensed mental health professionals available for players.
The NBA will be ramping up its player mental health program for the 2019-2020 season, by adding mental health professionals to every team and requiring plans be in place for mental health emergencies, according to The Athletic.
This initiative comes after multiple players have spoken out about their mental health struggles.
Teams this season will be required to have “one to two” licensed mental health professionals available for players, plus access to a licensed psychiatrist who would assist in “managing issues.” They will also need to have a written plan of action in place to guide responses to any player having a mental health crisis and let players know what they will do to protect their privacy around these matters.
Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan Speak Out
Both Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and DeMar DeRozan of the San Antonio Spurs have spoken up about their mental health issues in 2018. DeRozan was the first of the two to reveal his struggles with depression and anxiety.
“It’s one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we’re all human at the end of the day,” he said, according to The Star. “We all got feelings… all of that. Sometimes… it gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world’s on top of you.”
This was not long after posting a cryptic tweet that caught the attention of many NBA fans: “This depression get the best of me.”
The following month, Love opened up about his own issues, revealing that he had been seeing a therapist for months following a panic attack in November 2017. He penned an article for The Players Tribune about the incident and his decision to go to therapy titled “Everyone Is Going Through Something.”
“In the NBA, you have trained professionals to fine-tune your life in so many areas,” he said. “Coaches, trainers and nutritionists have had a presence in my life for years. But none of those people could help me in the way I needed when I was lying on the floor struggling to breathe.”
Social Media & Anxiety
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver even hinted about having his own issues with anxiety at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference last March, and suggested that something should be done about what he saw as widespread unhappiness among NBA players.
“We are living in a time of anxiety,” Silver said. “I think it’s a direct result of social media. A lot of players are unhappy.”
Radio.com is calling this latest initiative “the most significant step the NBA has taken in recognizing the importance of mental wellbeing in its players.”