The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the agency responsible for the laws relevant to the Privacy Rule that is part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). An athlete’s mental health conditions and treatment are protected health information under HIPAA and not considered part of an athlete’s employment record. The stigma associated with mental health has historically been a barrier to many athletes openly discussing mental health concerns and seeking treatment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S live with mental illness (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml). Athletes are not immune to mental illness, and they frequently face intense pressure and performance demands. Thus, it is imperative to continue to educate and de-stigmatize mental health to reduce barriers, while advocating to protect the rights and privacy of athletes who seek mental health treatment. If you are an athlete, or the parent of one, and are experiencing mental health concerns. Do not suffer in silence. Like so many professional athletes are doing, reach out for help from a qualified mental health professional and receive the services you need. It will benefit you not only in terms of helping your athletic performances, but help you feel better and more confident as a person. For more information on mental health among athletes or to receive sport psychology services, contact the UNT Center for Sport Psychology.
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