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New NAMI Blog: Major League Baseball Leads the Way in Mental Health Support for Athletes; Cy Young Champ, Others Inspire Fans

October 25, 2010

Arlington, Va.--In the latest NAMI blog entry, Mike Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, shares some encouraging developments in Major League Baseball’s (MLB) changing attitudes about mental illness.

"Stigma can be a barrier to anyone seeking mental health treatment, but as a society that holds professional athletes up on pedestals, I think we sometimes forget that athletes face many of the same challenges that can affect any of us in our personal lives, including mental illness," Fitzpatrick writes.

"Athletes and Mental Illness: Major League Baseball Steps Up to the Plate," a NAMI Advocate magazine article this month further explores the barriers players once faced in addressing mental health concerns, stresses related to a baseball player’s lifestyle and the steps MLB is taking to better address and support baseball players and their families.

The article notes that Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals, the reigning American League Cy Young Award Winner, is one example of why MLB’s investment in its player’s mental health is critical.  As a rookie, he was named Royals pitcher of the year, but two years later, he struggled to pitch a single strike in pre-season bullpen sessions.

Greinke took a break from baseball to learn how to manage his social anxiety disorder and depression—and came back stronger, ultimately earning the Cy Young award in 2009.  

"We appreciate the work MLB is doing to encourage players to get help when they need it, as we all know early interventions have the best outcomes," Fitzpatrick writes. "We also hope that as more players and athletes in other sports come forward, that they will encourage their own fans to seek help if they or a loved one need it."

NAMI Advocate

Join NAMI as a member to receive the full print magazine or access to it on the NAMI Website. NAMI also publishes a monthly e-Advocate newsletter with open access on the NAMI website. The current Advocate magazine includes the following articles: "What are They Thinking?" on the latest trends in research and diagnosis, “Politics and Stigma: Presidents, Governors and Legislators Are Not Immune” and "The Role of Service Animals in Recovery."

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