(NewsNation Now) — The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced a new behavioral health program aimed at getting current and former athletes — as well as their families — the resources they need.
It’s a part of their ongoing efforts to tackle mental health in the sport and end any stigmas surrounding it.
The new program includes a concierge call center and crisis line that will match treatment and counseling services with one of 12 health care provider partners across the country. Issues they can address will include addiction, performance anxiety and post-career transition.
Jeremy Hogue, CEO of Sovereign Healthcare and Hall of Fame Health, said, “In many ways, it’s been [the players] as a community sort of stepping up and saying to the hall of fame. Can we as a hall of fame use our platform to do more for other players, current players, former players, and also do more that can impact our society.”
Ambassadors to the program include Hall of Fame members Ronnie Lott, Brian Dawkins, Steve Atwater, Tim Brown and Andre Reed, along with current players Adrian Peterson and Calais Campbell, according to a news release issued Thursday.
“We have to end the stigma surrounding mental health, and that includes athletes,” Dawkins said. “It’s OK to ask for help and to reach out if you are having issues. It’s OK not to be OK. But it’s not OK to stay that way — because our silence is killing us and damaging our families.”
Wes Cain, the president and CEO of Hall of Fame Behavioral Health, said taking the first step to getting help is most important.
“Whether it’s affordability, access, or simply saying the words ‘I need help’ to a trusted friend, current and retired athletes have faced an uphill battle in seeking and receiving mental health services. Our goal is to let everyone know that if you are a first-ballot Hall of Famer or a practice squad player, we hear you, and we are here to support you. No one should be left behind on their journey to live a healthy life.”
Houge, an offensive lineman for USC in the ’90s, said his message to families that have children who play contact sports “sports is so dynamic and has such a positive influence throughout our society all of us in the hall of fame are big believers that we can be the sort of fiduciary of the game. And part of what we’re doing is taking care of all of that community; whether it’s hall of famers or young kids, we want to be a positive impact in that community nationwide.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide or a personal crisis, there are resources to help. In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HELLO to 741741 (US) or 686868 (Canada).