skip navigation

How the NBA Is Taking Strides in Promoting Mental Health Awareness

By Greg Levinsky, Detroit Free Press, 06/24/19, 4:00PM CDT

Share

As the National Basketball Players Association turns toward the second season of its Mental Health and Wellness Program, the conversation about mental health is showing its importance across the NBA, and society as a whole

Sports psychologists around NBA teams were virtually nonexistent for most of Chauncey Billups' playing career.

Toward the end of his 17-year NBA tenure, which came to a close in 2014, the stigma surrounding mental health began to dissipate. 

And five years later, as the National Basketball Players Association turns toward the second season of its Mental Health and Wellness Program, the conversation about mental health is showing its importance across the NBA, and society as a whole.

"Growing up in the inner city, we were always taught that going to see a counselor or going to see a therapist — we frowned upon that," Billups, the former Detroit Pistons star and current ESPN analyst, said at Saturday's BIG3 opener at Little Caesars Arena. "No matter the need, it was the perception. So I'm glad now that that's no longer, and guys are confident enough to be vulnerable and really talk about mental health.

"It's a beautiful thing."

According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million American adults have an anxiety disorder, 19.7 million battle substance use disorders and 8.5 million suffered from both or concurrent disorders. Drug use falls under both the mental health and medicine umbrellas.