The US Open is taking heed to athletes’ concerns about a lack of mental health resources. On Tuesday (Aug. 24), the United States Tennis Association launched a new mental health initiative that promises to give tennis players competing in the tournament access to mental health services.
According to the USTA, licensed mental health providers and quiet rooms will be available to US Open competitors as part of the program, which aims to ensure that a “comprehensive and holistic approach will be taken with all aspects of player health, including mental health.” The USTA is working alongside the International Tennis Federation, Women’s Tennis Association and the Association of Tennis Professionals to let players know how they can access the newly-offered resources.
“Our goal is to make mental health services as readily available to athletes as services for a sprained ankle — and with no stigma attached,” said USTA First Vice President Dr. Brian Hainline in a statement. “We will provide an environment that fosters wellness while providing the necessary resources to readily allow mental health care seeking.”
“We recognize that ensuring the mental health of the players is an area that needed to be addressed, and we are taking formative steps to give athletes the necessary resources to compete at the highest level,” added USTA CEO and Executive Director Mike Dowse.
Conversations surrounding athletes’ mental health were brought to the forefront back in April when Naomi Osaka announced her departure from the French Open. Her decision came after fines and scrutiny regarding her refusal to engage with the media, which triggered her anxiety and “long bouts of depression.” The tennis star withdrew from Wimbledon the following month and later released an open letter in which she said the press conference format was “in great need of a refresh” and suggested that athletes be allowed to take “sick days.”