Pushed by players, the NFL works to embrace mental health

About 70 percent of NFL players are black, and according to a 2019 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, non-Hispanic black adults are half as likely to receive treatment as their white peers. In addition, the American Psychiatric Association apologized this year for racial disparities in care and research.

“I think especially in the black communities, even in my family, people feel that when you talk to someone, it’s a sign of weakness,” Campbell said. “That’s something we’re still trying to break through. It starts with educating our young people and empowering them, so it’s a social norm. I’ve seen other players like Dak do similar things – it must be a collective process for all of us.”

Like Thomas, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott learned the value of talking to a mental health professional while in college. During Mississippi’s spring semester of 2014, the year after his mother, Peggy, died of cancer, the university recommended that Prescott see a psychologist.

At first he saw it as a punishment and told the therapist, “I don’t have a problem.” Yet his mother was always the first person he turned to when he wanted to talk. As Prescott sat in the psychologist’s office, he realized it helped to open up.

Before the 2016 NFL draft, Prescott was arrested on suspicion of drink driving (he was later acquitted in the case). The Cowboys picked him in the fourth round, and in September the NFL required him to see a non-competition psychologist once a week as part of the league’s drug and alcohol program.

“I didn’t realize then what it was doing for me,” said Prescott, who helped Dallas to a 13-3 record in his rookie season. “But looking back, that’s why I was able to do what I did.”

Prescott said he’s in regular contact with Yolanda Bruce Brooks, the Cowboys’ mental health and wellness counselor, and Chad Bohling, the team’s mental conditioning coach, and that he realized that talking to a therapist is both good and helpful. bad days helped. him to be consistent on and off the field.

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