By John Ingoldsby
WASHINGTON, DC June 1, 2013 – NFL Player Engagement (NFLPE) will be at the White House this Monday to team up with the President, Vice President and other luminaries to launch a national awareness program on mental health.
Called the National Conference on Mental Health, the meeting will include experts from across America such as mental health advocates, educators, health care providers, faith leaders and those who have faced mental health problems.
Representing the NFL will be Player Engagement Senior Vice President Troy Vincent, who said,
“We are truly honored to join this national effort to focus on the timely topic of mental health, which we have long prioritized under our Total Wellness initiative to provide proper programs for our players and their families.”
“The National Football League will strongly support this national dialogue on mental health through a multidimensional commitment,” observed Vincent. “Our effort will include ensuring that NFL players attend community conversations being planned in cities across the nation, especially former players trained in responding to mental health issues. In fact, as part of our national and local outreach support, our Player Engagement department will co-brand its work with the National Dialogue on Mental Health, which will include linking through social media and releasing videos about mental health.”
This co-branding should prove a perfect fit with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) emphasis on early intervention, which targets the needs and issues of 16-to-24 year-olds.
The objective in kicking off this national conversation is to discuss how all Americans can come together in helping the millions of their fellow citizens struggling with mental health problems, while reducing the stigma and increasing requests for help.
“Those who need help are too often afraid to seek it because of the shame and secrecy associated with mental illness,” according to White House organizers of the event, who anticipate the event will serve as a springboard to increase the understanding and awareness of this topic nationwide.
Additionally, NFLPE will bring to bear its background in areas already associated with mental illness, where it was recently honored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) with their Humanitarian Award.
“We were recognized for our work with leading suicide prevention organizations, including AFSP, to launch the NFL Life Line, a website and crisis hotline number as a resource for former and current players, their family members, and all league and team employees,” explained Vincent. “The website includes an anonymous and confidential self-check quiz and online chat that allows individuals to interact with trained professionals. The website also lists important information about depression, suicide warning signs and features videos from former players encouraging those in distress to ‘make the call’ for help.”
But the website is just one of many areas in the NFLPE’s ongoing Total Wellness ‘Q5’ player assistance services (www.nflplayerengagement.com), which also includes free confidential counseling, personal or emotional crisis support, and enhanced counseling benefits. Its purpose it to provide education and resources to players and their families about how to develop and maintain holistic health--healthy minds, bodies, and relationships -- that ensure players feel a greater sense of respect, self worth and dignity.
Additionally, NFLPE has trained up and deployed former players as Transition Coaches to create relationships and recognize early signs of mental health issues at the club level, and encouraging players and their family members toward responsibility and accountability in taking advantage of these services and offerings.
All these NFL programs already in place will ultimately be one of many useful resources in the national program, which will debut the DHSS website www.MentalHealth.gov on Monday to continue the conversation begun at the National Conference on Mental Health. With the mandate of “Let’s Talk About It,” the website will provide mental health information and resources for individuals struggling with mental health problems, friends and family members, educators, and other community members. Specifically, the site will feature information regarding the basic signs of mental health problems, how to talk about mental health, and ways to find help.
“With our past and present emphasis on mental health at the NFL, we are proud to collaborate with this Administration at the community level to assist in bringing education, prevention and our best practices to the national dialogue on mental health,” stated Vincent in closing.
For more information about the NFL Total Wellness program, please click here.
Watch Video: The NFLPE Advisory Board discusses Wellness.