The National Basketball Association, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is currently in the process of creating a mental wellness program for its athletes.
"One of the things we negotiated in the most recent collective bargaining agreement was that the league, together with the union, would devote resources to a mental wellness program," NBPA director Michele Roberts told SB Nation's Paul Flannery. "It’s in the early stages. We’ve made one hire. We’re in the process of hiring a director. I hoped that we’d have everything up and running by All-Star (weekend). Clearly we haven’t, but we want to make sure we get the right staff so that this is the success it needs to be.
"We’re working on it, but it’s a shame that this hasn’t been given attention a long, long time ago."
Roberts added that she's hopeful the program will run independent of the league and union, although it would still be funded by both.
"We don’t want players to be discouraged from getting help when they need it because they’re concerned that it will get back to the team, or it may affect their play, or it may affect their next contract," she said.
"The league and the PA agreed that in order for this thing to work, it needed to be operating on its own. And that no one, absolutely no one, would have access to any information. Strict confidentiality to the extent that it can be protected. So we'll see. It has to work and I've got to believe that we're on the right track."
Roberts did acknowledge that players are "blessed" to be a part of the game, but said there's also a high degree of anxiety that comes with the territory, whether it's from playing in front of tens of thousands of people several times a week, or losing a level of privacy by constantly being in the public eye.