By Rachel Terrill, Player Engagement Insider
What would you do if you were having a mental health crisis? What if a friend reached out to you for help? In a life or death emergency, always call 911. But what if you’re not sure, or if you need someone to talk with? Having a game plan in place before a crisis hits will help you act fast when time matters most.
A network of mental health specialists consult with NFL teams on issues including total wellness and mental health education to be sure you are receiving the help you need. As a result, the NFL has programs and resources to help you when you need help most.
In addition to the mental health professionals in place to help NFL Clubs, there are league and club leaders who are trained to serve on Critical Response Teams (CRTs). CRTs provide immediate and confidential crisis assistance including safety, medical, legal and social services to anyone in the NFL family. Assistance is also available for spouses, significant others or other family members who have experienced abuse. All 32 clubs currently have established CRTs.
In addition to CRTs, there are also other resources available specifically for current and former players and their families. Here are a few of those resources:
- NFL Life Line (800) 506-0078 or http://nfllifeline.org/
The NFL Life Line is a free 24/7 confidential crisis line available to all members of the NFL family – current and former players, league and team staff and family members of those groups. Trained staff members are available to help you and your loved ones work through any emotional crises. The free, confidential hotline is independently operated to protect your anonymity.
- The NFL’s Players Assistance and Counseling Services Program (Employee Assistance Program –EAP), (866) 421-8628 or (202) 756-9161
The NFL’s Players Assistance and Counseling Services Program (Employee Assistance Program – EAP), operated by Cigna, connects members of the NFL family with special programs specifically designed for the NFL. Benefits include eight free confidential counseling sessions per issue — regardless of what the issue is or when it might arise. These services are also available to anyone who lives in the household of an eligible current or former NFL player.
- The Bridge to Success Program
(NFL Transition Coaches), (212) 450-2677)
The Bridge to Success Program connects NFL Legends with NFL Transition Coaches to help them navigate their NFL programs and benefits. Transition coaches are highly trained former players who understand the benefits available.
- Player Engagement Directors
Active players can seek out their Club Player Engagement Director. Because Player Engagement Directors are in the locker room, they are often the first line of defense for those needing help. Player Engagement Directors are available to help players, on and off the field, with access to league benefits and other health, wellness, and educational resources. Player Engagement Directors are present in each NFL Club to help provide resources and other help for players.
- The NFL Player Care Foundation (PCF)
The NFL Player Care Foundation is an independent organization dedicated to helping retired players improve their quality of life. The PCF provides programs and assistance with medical, emotional, financial, social and community needs. In addition to these programs, PCF offers free health screening programs to all former NFL players.
Each of these programs and resources was designed with you and your teammates in mind. Be sure to take advantage of each of these NFL resources and pass on the information to other NFL families and friends. Remember, having a plan in place will help you respond quickly when help is needed most.