Clinically Speaking is a blog that will allow anyone to learn about Social Work, case presentations in psychotherapy, and the relationship of pop culture in psychology. Come one...come all!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sports and Mental Health

In the wake of three incidents that have captured the sports nation; the alleged suicide of former NFL player and two NBA stars who have been unable to control their anger, thought it might be apropos to talk about it. Over the past 24 hours, I wondered if athletes in general don't obtain services and if that is true...why? One answer could be the same reason why anyone doesn't obtain services: Stigma. But are there other reasons?

In New Zealand, psychologist Karen Nimmo said "A survey by the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association found 35 percent of recently-retired players suffer feelings of despair or depression...Sport (associations) need to be realistic about the number of … serious problems that athletes face. There are a number of good sports psychs, but I don’t think sports have yet realized that they need to place attention on clinical issues in sport", as reported by New Zealand Herald newspaper.*

Dr. Chris Stankovich, a sports and culture psychologist made a point after he wrote an article in 2010 in the response to an NFL receiver, Kenny McKinley, who committed suicide, that "hopefully some of the smarter GM’s will see that by adding a line in the budget devoted to mental health will yield a return on investment and more than pay for itself – on and off the field". Furthermore, he wrote yesterday in regards to the alleged suicide by another former NFL player Junior Seau, that he believes that pro-athletes are not being educated once they are "retired" on how to adjust to a normal life(eerily similar to veteran coming home from war...interesting).**

Countless athletes in past and current suffer from anxiety and depression. Within the last couple of years Major League Baseball and the National Football League have started realizing that mental health is a problem when in the past it has been relegated to "shake it off, and get back in the game". Athletes are now seeking treatment. For instance, New York Mets' pitcher Mike Pelfrey, and Milwaukee Brewers' pitcher Zach Grienke both treated for an anxiety disorder. Running Back Rickey Williams reported that he was battling depression while playing, and Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall reported that he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

With the suspension of Metta World Peace aka Ron Artest, who elbowed a player, is most notably been in psychotherapy for some time now for anger management. Though, he has donated time and money for mental health awareness it gives you an idea that although people who have mental health problems who seek treatment, it takes time and real effort to reduce those problems. 

Conversely, Do you think Amare Stoudemire needs anger management counseling? Maybe, it is possible  that he overreacted, that doesn't mean he needs counseling. If it becomes a trend then there might be a case, but mental health professionals still need to assess what is going on to prevent it from happening again.

Each league, front office, and retirement services need to address mental health issues while they are playing as well as when they are retired. Mental health isn't like a broken bone, cast and in 6 weeks you're good to go, its a life long battle that people who suffer from it need to work on. They need to employ professionals and help deal with the issues on and off the field/court. 

Happy Thursday! (& Lets go Devils and Knicks!)

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