Facing concussion lawsuits on behalf of about 3,000 defendants, the National Football League Thursday launched a confidential mental health hot line that was developed by suicide prevention experts.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the NFL Life Line as one of the foundations of the new NFL Total Wellness initiative, which is aimed at current and former players, and league and team personnel.
“Its mission is to build on our programs and services that enhance the physical and mental health of our people,” Goodell said in an email to past and current players. “NFL Total Wellness will empower players to make positive health decisions; promote help-seeking behaviors in connection with behavioral and mental health issues; provide education on family safety; and enhance transition programs that help players adjust to new stages of life.”
Several former NFL players who sustained head injuries during their careers have committed suicide, including former Atlanta Falcon Ray Easterling.
Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General and current director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, will advise NFL Total Wellness. Dr. Satcher has already conducted 14 mental health forums over the past two years for former NFL players and their families. He will expand his role to facilitate more wellness events across the country. He also will provide online webinars And consult with the NFL on its health programs and services.
The initiative will be lead by NFL executives Robert Gulliver and Troy Vincent. Gulliver, the NFL’s Chief Human Resources Officer, joined the league in 2010, having previously held senior HR leadership roles at Wells Fargo & Co. Vincent, the vice president of NFL Player Engagement, is a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback and former president of the NFL Players Association (2004-2008).
NFL Life Line is part of the program, and is a free, independent and confidential phone consultation service and website available to all members of the NFL, including current and former players, coaches, team and league staff, and their family members.
“The NFL Life Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Goodell wrote. “All calls will be strictly confidential and not shared with the league office, teams, or any related entity.”