NBA Reportedly Outlines New Mental Health Guidelines for 2019-20 Season

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2019

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver arrives at the NBA Awards on Monday, June 24, 2019, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Richard Shotwell/Associated Press

The NBA is reportedly taking steps to better aid its players in the area of mental health entering the 2019-20 season.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the NBA is beefing up its mental health program with several new initiatives and rules that all 30 teams must follow.

Among the requirements is that teams must make available to players "one to two" mental health professionals who are licensed in their field, as well as identify a licensed psychiatrist to assist in managing issues when needed.

Teams reportedly must also have a "written action plan" in case of mental health emergencies, and they must communicate to players and staff members how the team will go about ensuring privacy and confidentiality.

The NBA will reportedly discuss the new guidelines with teams on Sept. 12 in Chicago during a health and wellness meeting.

Multiple players have spoken out in recent years regarding the mental health struggles NBA players go through. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan are two of the most notable.

In July, 2012 first-round pick Royce White told the New York Post he believes his mental health issues led to his being blackballed from the league, and he called for the NBA to put a better system in place.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has acknowledged the challenges the NBA presents to those who struggle with mental health. Per ESPN, Silver discussed the topic in March at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: "We are living in a time of anxiety. I think it's a direct result of social media. A lot of players are unhappy."

The new guidelines are the most significant steps the NBA has taken in the area of mental health since May 2018 when the National Basketball Players Association announced the launch of a mental health and wellness program headed by former NBA guard Keyon Dooling.