NBA and players aim to erase stigma surrounding mental health

Larry Sanders doesn’t watch a lot of television, but, from time to time, when he comes across an NBA game, he says he can easily identify players who are dealing with mental health issues.

“I’m not sure it’s obvious to everyone,” Sanders said, “but I know the signs.”97

Sanders was once a young, rising NBA star whose elite defensive skills stitched nfl nike jerseys earned him a four-year, $44 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks in August 2013. He was long, active and athletic on the court, yet his physical gifts could not offset the anxiety and depression that eventually consumed him.

He chose to self-medicate with marijuana to alleviate his anxiety and isolation. That led to four violations of the NBA substance abuse program, two suspensions and the stunning decision to walk away from pro basketball in 2015 at age 26. Sanders checked himself into Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin and enrolled in a program to combat anxiety, depression and mood disorders. Before he did, he posted a video on the Players’ Tribune detailing his struggles.

Recent public revelations by current players Channing Frye, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love about grappling with mental health issues has naturally captured Sanders’ attention. So has news that the league and the union are formulating a more robust mental health program to address the needs of its players.

League and union sources confirm that once the new, more comprehensive mental health program is unveiled, it will function as its own entity, extricated from the league’s drug policy.

Both league and union officials concur that having mental health lumped in with the substance abuse policy was a deterrent to players who needed and wanted help with mental health concerns.

Sanders says this is a huge step forward. His struggles, he says, were exacerbated by his drug suspensions, which under the collective bargaining agreement required him to receive drug treatment when what he really was seeking was assistance with his mental wellness. As a result, he says,nfl jerseys stitched his “treatment” felt punitive instead of therapeutic.