WNBA player Liz Cambage opened up about her ongoing battles with mental health in a new piece for The Player's Tribune, attributing her absence from recent Aces' games to depression and anxiety and discussing her thoughts on the status of mental health in sports.
Cambage, 27, missed two of Las Vegas's games last week. She was listed as DNP-Rest, but Cambage says, "here’s the truth of what it should have said: DNP-Mental Health." She discussed how mental health has impacted her ability to do her job and cited it as the reason she requested a trade from the Wings this offseason despite having her best professional season to date in 2018 with Dallas. Cambage said she needed to be closer to her family on the West Coast so she could have a better support system.
The 6'8" All-Star went on to discuss the NBA's expanded set of mental health policies for 2019-20, which include requiring all teams to have at least one mental health professional on retainer as well as mandating that each organization identifies a licensed psychiatrist available to help manage any mental health concerns for players.
Cambage praised the step taken by the league but wondered aloud why the WNBA doesn't have a similar program in place.
From Cambage's piece for The Player's Tribune:
"Something I’ve been thinking a lot about this week is the NBA’s new rule — which says that every team has to have a mental health professional on staff. I’ve seen a lot of people praise the league for the rule, and for being so forward about mental health in general. And I’m one of those people. I think it’s a great thing they’re doing, and it’s going to help their players, for sure. They deserve a ton of credit.
But at the same time, I won’t lie — it’s disappointing to me that we’re praising anyone for “progress,” when so many women are being excluded from it. I mean….. doesn’t the WNBA deserve this same program?
And even beyond the W — even beyond sports: Isn’t mental healthcare just elemental? Isn’t it one of those things where we should just decide that every person needs access to it, and then….. find a way? Every school, every workplace, every sporting program, just — everyone. Everyone should have a mental health professional. It’s a doctor! Do you know what I mean? It’s literally a physio for your brain.
It’s treating someone as a human being."
Cambage called for mental health to be a legitimate reason for a player to miss a game, calling it "an injury like any other" as well as expressing her desire for policy improvements akin to the NBA's.
In 22 appearances for the Aces so far this season, Cambage has averaged 15.5 points, 2.1 assists and 8.0 rebounds.