Mental Health in the Big Leagues

With spring training now underway, people’s thoughts tend to move toward thoughts of America’s favorite pastime – baseball. You may not be aware, however, that major league baseball (MLB) is, perhaps, the most progressive of all professional sports when it comes to issues involving mental health. In fact, on April 1, 2009, the MLB put in place a disabled list (DL) for players suffering from emotional disorders. Teams were then allowed to place players on the DL if they were evaluated and diagnosed as suffering from a psychological problem that prevents them from playing, the same way they handle physical injuries.

During the 2009 season, five players were put on the disabled list with diagnoses ranging from clinical depression to anxiety attacks to social anxiety disorder.

While the MLB may be bringing more awareness to mental health issues, no other professional sports league has followed this path. While we know there are many professional athletes who live with mental health diagnoses (remember Ron Artest thanking his psychiatrist after winning the NBA championship?), why do you think they have not created similar programs? Do you believe that mental health still has a stigma in professional sports?

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