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NBA’s new mental health policies, ‘a really good move’, says former Atlanta Hawks GM

by Jim Lemuel Wilson, August 11, 2019 2:32pm

Former Atlanta Hawks General Manager Wes Wilcox said that the National Basketball Association’s implementation of new rules on taking care of players mental health is ‘a really good move’.

Speaking to Jared Greenberg of NBA TV, Wilcox said that the announcement of the new rules simply shows how the NBA is taking care of the players.

“This is a really good move by the NBA league office, but many teams are already doing this. Now this will be formalized. So this is just another example of the league taking best care of the players and providing the best services they can though many teams are already doing it,” Wilcox said.

“The question becomes about implementation and confidentiality, ‘cause that’s where it becomes challenging,” he added.

Wilcox also cautioned that the teams have to create confidence regarding confidentiality between the medical mental health professional and the team.

“As the GM dealing with this medical professional that you’re providing to your team—or medical mental health professional—you need to say to them and say to the players: ‘We’re only going to have two conversations with the medical professional regarding this situation. That’s one, if you’re health is in danger, or two, if you’re potentially injuring or hurting someone else or doing something illegal,’ Wilcox said.

“That alone, you have to share that upfront to create the confidence in the mental health professional and your team, but it’s just challenging because there’s a thin line there,” the former GM added.

According to reports, the memo stated that the teams are now required to at least one mental health professional on retainer. Each professional must have "experience in assessing and treating clinical mental health issues."

Each team must also "identify a licensed psychiatrist" available to help manage any mental health concerns, and "enact a written action plan for mental health emergencies." All 30 teams are also required to attend a "health and wellness meeting" in Chicago in September.

The NBA started focusing on the development of the mental health aspect of the game after current and former players came out and talked about the mental problems they had to go through.

Kevin Love wrote on The Players Tribune about how he had a panic attack once while playing against the Atlanta Hawks. Keyon Dooling also wrote on about him having “paranoid delusions and shivering in the fetal position” while in a mental institution. DeMar DeRozan, meanwhile, talked with The Star about his experience with depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

Just because NBA players seem to be big, strong, and athletic doesn’t mean that they will never have mental health problems.

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