NBA Requires All Teams to Add Mental Health Staff for 2019-2020 Season

League officials hope new rules will lead to greater openness regarding depression

NBA
The NBA has enacted new rules boosting their team's mental health staff.
Erik Drost/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / September 21, 2019 6:00 am

It’s important for professional athletes to keep themselves in good physical shape — but an increasing number of voices within the athletic community have begun to emphasize that mental health is every bit as important. Jonathan Vaughters wrote movingly about the mental health issues that frequently plague newly-retired cyclists in his recent memoir. And in a recent interview with InsideHook, Justin Pugh of the Arizona Cardinals talked about the need for more openness about depression within the NFL.

Another major sports league has taken steps to improve its players’ mental well-being. New rules for the NBA beginning this season require each team to upgrade their mental health staff. CNBC has the full report:

The league adopted new rules that require teams to add at least one full-time licensed mental health professional — a psychologist or behavioral therapist — to their full-time staff. Teams will also be required, starting this season, to retain a licensed psychiatrist to assist when needed.

As part of the new rules, CNBC also reports that teams will need to have an action plan in place for emergencies, as well as communicating their privacy policy to their staff and players.

The NFL also requires teams to have a behavioral health team clinician on staff, following an agreement between the league and the NFLPA earlier this year. As the interview with Pugh notes, however, getting players to actually utilize those resources may be difficult. 

The NBA’s efforts also include the hope that this will help normalize talking about depression and mental health issues in general. CNBC’s article is comprehensive in its description of the league’s efforts, as well as the testimonies of players that helped pave the way for these new rules. 

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