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NFL concerned that players don’t accept counseling in retirement

San Diego Community Mourns Suicide Death Of NFL Legend Junior Seau Getty Images

In the wake of Junior Seau’s suicide, there’s been increasing talk that NFL players need help to adjust to retirement. And it’s become increasingly clear that the problem is less about having help available to retired players than about getting players to accept the help that’s offered to them.

Troy Vincent, who played 15 NFL seasons and is now the league’s vice president of player engagement, said that retired players are informed that mental health counseling is available to them, but the vast majority of players decline.

“We have our player assistance and counsel services is not just available to players, but his family as well,” Vincent said on 550 WGR in Buffalo, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “Each player has the option of four free clinician services of their choice and where they want it to. It doesn’t get used often. Very seldom does a player or family member reach out to just talk about hey I am not feeling well. Again, it’s a service that’s very underutilized.”

Vincent mentioned that there are little things that deter former players from seeking treatment, such as not being accustomed to the hassles involved: When you’re an active NFL player and you need any type of health care, mental or physical, you have a team medical staff ready to treat you on your schedule. When you’re retired, you have to sit in a waiting room and fill out paperwork. But the larger issue is that football players have been taught not to express feelings of weakness or sadness.

“It’s a concern of ours,” Vincent said. “In the world of professional sports and more in particular, football, you don’t want anyone to know that you are not feeling well. That’s a sign of — that’s a stigma that is related with talking about mental health and mental wellness. That’s a challenge for us. That is something we want to overcome. We want to dispel the myth that football players are not vulnerable. We are. We are human beings, but those are the things. It’s a population that doesn’t view and receive resources, in particular mental health services, well.”

For the NFL, convincing players — current and former — to seek help when they need it is a major priority. And an issue the league needs to continue to focus on, even though it won’t be easy.

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7 Responses to “NFL concerned that players don’t accept counseling in retirement”
  1. eagleswin says: Jun 20, 2012 3:00 PM

    For the NFL, convincing players — current and former — to seek help when they need it is a major priority. And an issue the league needs to continue to focus on, even though it won’t be easy.

    ——————————–

    Shouldn’t it be up to the NFLPA to convince the players? Oh yeah, they are to busy suing the league for anything and everything. Where do those union fees go to besides for billable lawyer hours?

    There really should be an organization formed that has the players best longterm interests in mind. One that looks out for their wellbeing and safety. One that would mandate mouthguards, leg pads and concussion resistant helmets during their playing years. One that would help with counselling and players adjusting to postNFL life.

    Maybe they should ask DeSmith if he has any ideas.

  2. dayumyou says: Jun 20, 2012 3:07 PM

    this country doesn’t take mental health seriously and until we do we will see more and more suicides and reckless behavior with disastrous consequences…..mental health is just as important as physical health!!!!

  3. rajbais says: Jun 20, 2012 3:33 PM

    Counseling doesn’t work all the time. It works for others, but the best cure is great support system.

    It’ll bankrupt you like how litigating will.

  4. rajbais says: Jun 20, 2012 3:48 PM

    Or do the “Kyle Turley Thing”, medical marijuana!!! He told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and Bob Ley that he uses it to deal with his concussion-related depression.

  5. j0esixpack says: Jun 20, 2012 4:21 PM

    It’s worth taking a closer look at how they are promoting these services.

    All too often Employee Assistance Programs are relegated to an impersonal phone-line.

    The NFL might do well to do more than just passively have an EAP plan.

    All retired members can and should get routine letters and updates to make them aware of issues of concern. These can easily be tailored by state to list local providers – and even a central warm line number that might be staffed by a former player/advocate

    These are just a few ideas off the top of my head that might help.

    The real problem is the Stigma of Mental Illness.

    More soldiers are dying by suicide than in combat and no one talks about it or seems concerned. Three times as many people die by suicide than in drunk driving accidents.

    There are more attempted suicides each year – and nearly as many completed suicides – as there are deaths from Breast Cancer.

    I saw NFL players wearing pink jerseys and gloves to draw attention to breast cancer awareness during games this season.

    Is the NFL doing anything similar regarding Mental Illness and the stigma that prevents their players and the public from seeking available help?

    No? I thought not.

    That’s where the problem ultimately lies.

  6. j0esixpack says: Jun 20, 2012 4:29 PM

    rajbais says: Counseling doesn’t work all the time. It works for others, but the best cure is great support system.

    It’ll bankrupt you like how litigating will.

    —————————-

    Counseling doesn’t work all the time. I don’t think anyone ever said it did.

    But if you’re seriously comparing a handful of $50 counseling sessions to the legal fees wracked up by attorneys, you’d do well to seek some counseling yourself.

  7. fdugrad says: Jun 20, 2012 7:28 PM

    It appears that players don’t like to listen, take advice or pursue counseling in many avenues, even though availability is omnipresent throughout their careers. If players DID listen or seek any of the MANY counseling opportunities, there wouldn’t be so many bankrupt former players two years down the line from retirement. It is amazing the number of FREE services that are in front of union members during their NFL playing days that are bypassed daily as well as yearly. It is difficult to gin up any empathy for these pampered individuals simply because they are incapable of taking the time to seek counseling of any sort. I surely do not wish them ill, however they must take ownership for their own well-being before it is too late to do so. Too many of them view the concept of ” future ” as: Now and NOT Now.

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