The Pro Football Hall of Fame is forming a behavioral health program seeking to address the mental and behavioral health of current and former athletes and their families.
The program, announced Thursday in Canton, Ohio, is supported by such Hall members as Ronnie Lott, Brian Dawkins, Steve Atwater, Andre Reed and Tim Brown; current players Adrian Peterson and Calais Campbell; and David Baker, president of the Hall of Fame.
"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."
Hall of Fame Behavioral Health will offer a concierge call center and crisis line to match treatment and counseling services with an accredited network of providers nationwide. Providers are trained to handle topics such as post-career transition, identity, addiction, performance anxiety, mindfulness and the culture of sports. Such services will complement existing programs and assistance available to players through the NFL and NFLPA.
"The Pro Football Hall of Fame has always been about protecting the most important part of the game of football: the players," Baker said. "With Hall of Fame Behavioral Health, our mission is to make mental and behavioral health services that meet the Hall of Fame's standards of excellence easily accessible and available not only to Hall of Famers but to every player of this game, the people who support them, and the kids dreaming about one day playing in the league. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is committed to ending the stigma that surrounds asking for help and protecting our family of athletes for generations to come."
Partners with Hall of Fame Behavioral Health will be Ashley Addiction Treatment of Baltimore; Aultman Health Foundation of Canton; Baylor Scott & White Health of Dallas; Emory Healthcare of Atlanta; Lindner Center of Hope of Cincinnati; Nashville Recovery Center in Tennessee; New Method Wellness of Southern California; Sabino Recovery of Tucson, Arizona; The Becoming Counseling & Wellness, a national company; The Menninger Clinic of Houston; UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences of San Francisco; and Vanderbilt Health of Nashville.
Early last year, the Hall created Hall of Fame Health.
"Hall of Fame Behavioral Health is the latest development in this growing initiative, and it might be the one addressing the greatest need," said Jeremy Hogue, CEO of Hall of Fame Health.