About This Episode
On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice investigate the state of mental health in sports. They’re joined in-studio by former NBA player and mental health advocate Royce White. Royce is most well-known for advocating that the NBA create a mental health policy for players. Our intrepid hosts are also joined by neuroscientist and StarTalk All-Stars host Heather Berlin, and Krista Van Slingerland, co-founder of Canada’s first Centre for Mental Health and Sport and PhD candidate in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa.
You’ll hear about Royce’s journey and his experiences dealing with the stigma of mental health in sports. Find out about his transition from progressive environments that supported mental health in high school and college to being ostracized once he entered the NBA. You’ll hear why Royce feels that pairing mental screenings of players could be detrimental unless the NBA committed to being more educated on mental health. Discover how the untruthful stigma of mental health can disadvantage players during free agency. Find out how Royce’s experiences compared to other professionals who revealed their own issues with mental health.
Next, Heather gives us some basic background in mental health terminology and understanding. You’ll learn how anxiety manifests in the brain and we discuss substance or medication-induced anxieties. We also discuss if the highly competitive nature of sports can exacerbate anxiety. We ponder if certain mental illnesses can be advantageous to players or coaches. Krista tells us the challenges she faced when establishing Canada’s first Centre for Mental Health and Sport. You’ll hear why early sport specialization can have negative effects on mental and psychological health. Find out how Krista creates an environment that supports mental health in a sports context and why there’s still vast room in the sports community to become literate in and aware of mental health. All that, plus, we end the episode with a simple way to check in on people if you’re concerned about their mental health.
NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Mental Health in Sports, with Royce White.