The NBA has provided the teams with updated mental health policies and guidelines on Wednesday to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The league has asked the teams to increase their commitment towards providing the best resources possible to deal with the mental health of the players and staff. The teams were instructed to establish “education and awareness materials focused on managing mental health during times of uncertainty and coping strategies for addressing the emotional toll of the pandemic.”
“Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of one’s mental health and having access to resources are important aspects of managing the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and stress that have characterized much of 2020 and will in all likelihood be present during the 2020-21 season,” the league wrote in a memo.
Most arenas don’t allow fans to enter and the ones who do only allow a certain number of people inside. Moreover, tests are conducted daily on players and coaches, travel parties have also been pared down and the players on bench have been instructed to wear masks as well until they enter the court. These are the protocols that have been put in place in this NBA season.
“All this is a little bit like the Twilight Zone,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said on being asked about the mental strain of playing amid a pandemic. “Everything looks the same. In many ways, it can operate in a similar way. But we all know it is different. And that has a different effect on different people, for sure.”
The league has also issued a guidance that social distancing has to be followed when mental health services are being provided to the players.
“We’re trying to have an environment where everybody feels like they can come to our team setting, plug in, be themselves, focus on their craft and be around like-minded people,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said.
“What we believe is if we build that environment where everybody is thriving … then if there are stressors that are related to health or where we’re at as a country or just the natural stressors of an NBA season, then that environment can raise the level of our players and we can all support each other.”
The National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) also addressed the mental health issues in the quarterly health bulletin they released on Wednesday.
“The usage of mental health tools and support platforms has increased as have the modalities to assist those in need. These include meditation apps, journaling, engaging in therapy with a professional or a support group as well as other mindful techniques, such as yoga,” the NBCA wrote.