The NBA is continuing to prove why it’s one of the most forward-thinking leagues around the world.
Since 2015, the league has been initiating steps to better player’s mental health. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Commissioner Adam Silver is now further expanding the NBA’s efforts with a new set of guidelines.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 7, 2019
The Athletic reported the following bullets points as being apart of the league-wide memo:
- Retain and make available to players on a voluntary basis one to two mental health professionals who are licensed in their field and locality, and with experience in assessing and treating clinical mental health issues.
- Identify a licensed psychiatrist (M.D. or D.O.) to be available to assist in managing player mental health issues.
- Enact a written action plan for mental health emergencies.
- Put in place procedures for communicating to players and team staff the team’s practices with respect to privacy and confidentiality.
- Attend a Sept. 12 “health and wellness meeting” in Chicago where these matters will be discussed and analyzed even further.
All teams now must ensure that their organization is following these steps by the start of the 2019-20 campaign. If you go out and look for another major sports league with as extensive procedures for mental health, you probably aren’t going to find one. As The Athletic maps out nicely, in 2015, the league made a clinical psychologist available to speak with players and staff members. Following that, in 2017, the league then partnered with the Jed Foundation, which provides mental health advising to the league as a whole.
Now, these new guidelines now join a package of recommendations that the team’s received in 2018 regarding proper ways to approach mental health and wellness.
Over the past several years, the National Basketball Player Association has been instrumental in pushing these initiatives forward. NBA stars Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan have been especially vocal about encouraging mental wellness after both shared stories about suffering from anxiety and depression.
The steps being taken by the NBA should reflect what needs to be done across the sports world. In the NBA particularly, extremely young athletes are walking into the spotlight with pain-staking pressure shining down on them. Clearly, these beams of light come with a significant amount of weight put on these player’s shoulders, and considering the league is manning that spotlight, they should take the proper steps to alleviate the pain.
None of these changes are ever going to solve the mental health issues that players might go through, but their ability to receive treatment or guidance has become easier than ever before. Also, these major moves by the NBA and its players have helped pull back the curtain to promote a greater discussion on the topic as a whole.
As far as how sports league’s run, just hand the NBA the trophy for “best of the best.”