Minor League Baseball Players with Major Mental Health Problems

Low pay and poor housing are causing a mental health crisis in minor league baseball.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

On September 30, 2021, the last day of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, ESPN published a story titled: “Can a union fix this? Minor leaguers say poverty-level pay, poor housing are driving a mental health crisis.”1

The story started with a failed suicide attempt of a minor league baseball player, Kieran Lovegrove, who had financial and other problems. He then felt that he was meant to speak out about mental health in the minor leagues. Most are reluctant to jeopardize their careers by doing so.

In the midst of starting the highly profitable major league playoffs and world series, with many players with multimillion-dollar annual contracts, we have the minor leagues—the feeding grounds to the majors—with a financial and mental health crisis. It sort of parallels the more general great and growing divide in our country between the rich and poor. Moreover, although psychiatric and psychological care has infused the major leagues, it has not been readily available for the minor leaguers. Fortunately, the works and actions of Lovegrove and other minor leaguers seem to be getting the attention of the major league owners. May this also get the attention of the rest of society as another underserved group in mental health care.

Professional baseball has legal protection against the use of unions. So do businesses involved in health care, so that psychiatrists and other physicians cannot unionize. Without that, the courage of speaking out against mental harm takes on added weight and necessity wherever it is in such systems, the latest being about Facebook. The desired outcome, of course, is better mental health in those systems and their users.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.

Reference

1. Lee J. “Can a union fix this? Minor leaguers say poverty-level pay, poor housing are driving a mental health crisis.” ESPN. September 30, 2021. Accessed October 5, 2021. https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/32172108/can-union-fix-minor-leaguers-say-poverty-level-pay-poor-housing-driving-mental-health-crisis