October 31, 2018 11:54 am

Tonight, Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice Investigate Mental Health in Sports

Mental health still has an unwelcome stigma attached to it in many areas of our society – and it’s even more heightened in the sporting world. On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice investigate mental health in sports, and the awareness, or lack of awareness, concerning treatments, resources, and more.

Joining Chuck and Gary is former NBA first-round draft pick Royce White. Royce is well-known in basketball for being a leading advocate for the NBA to create a mental health policy for its players. As you’ll hear on this episode, Royce tells us his story involving his own mental health and his journey trying to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.

Photo of Royce White.

Photo courtesy of Royce White.

You’ll learn how Royce dealt with the transition from being in very progressive environments in high school and college with solid mental health support to the complete opposite upon his arrival in the NBA. We discuss the possibilities of including mental screenings alongside physical screenings for players and why they would only make the problem worse unless the NBA itself becomes more educated on mental health issues.

After our chat with Royce, neuroscientist and StarTalk All-Stars host Heather Berlin stops by to help us understand some terminology and overall science behind mental health. You’ll find out more about anxiety and how it manifests itself in the human brain. We also explore whether the highly competitive nature of sports can actually exacerbate mental health issues. Heather tells us about some of the neurocognitive testing she does with NFL and NHL players. We even ponder whether certain mental illnesses can, in some cases, be advantageous to coaches and players.

Lastly, we catch up with Krista Van Slingerland, Co-Founder of Canada’s first Centre for Mental Health and Sport and a PhD candidate in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. Krista tells us about the process of setting up a center for mental health and the challenges she encountered. She also tells us how the impact of early sport specialization can bring on negative effects on mental and psychological health. All that, plus, she gives us a very simple way to check in on people if you’re concerned with their mental health.

Please join us tonight at 7pm ET for Mental Health in Sports, with Royce White right here on our website, as well as on our Playing with Science channels on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Ian Mullen