Football and mental health care: Sometimes predictions work, but it is also worth taking some chances and having backup plans.
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
Each National Football League team obtains its players through a yearly draft and trades. By expert consensus, the most important player for each team is the quarterback. The 2 teams playing for the Super Bowl championship on Sunday had success with dramatically different ways of drafting their quarterbacks, which could have implications for how any organization, including medical and mental health care ones, hire and develop the individuals in the organizations. Since individual private practice in medicine is becoming rare, the composition of medical organizations takes more priority now.
Kansas City went the usual preferred route. They selected a consensus highly promising quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, very early in a draft after trading up from their own slot. Nevertheless, other teams still passed him up. After sitting on the bench and not playing much for a year, he blossomed into probably the best quarterback in recent years.
The other team, San Francisco, sort of went on a different quarterback journey. They, too, had traded up to select a quarterback even earlier in a draft, but he both got injured and did not play up to expectations. Perhaps as a kind of last-minute insurance policy, they also drafted a quarterback with the last selection in the 7-round draft, often named “Mr Irrelevant,” due to such low expectations for his success. This selection turned out be Mr Very Relevant, as Brock Purdy became a high-quality quarterback over the last couple of years.
Here is where the predictions for Purdy went away. As one example, take this scouting report of him in 2022 before he was drafted:
“He’s a scrappy runner but not dynamic enough to make up for his shortcomings as a passer.”
Both aspects of his game have been proven untrue. Remember, too, that probably the greatest quarterback in history, Tom Brady, was also drafted rather late, in the sixth round, presumably due to less than desired athletic abilities.
Such underestimates of promise remind me of our patients. For too long and still, to a degree, we have underestimated their potential. Yet, many with severe mental illness have been able to become valued paid employees as peer specialists in mental health care settings, as well as other success stories once stigma is overcome and enough support provided. Sometimes, too, special strengths prove invaluable, especially if accompanying weaknesses can be covered in other ways.
There are diamonds in the rough for any workplace. You really do not know how someone will work out until they actually start to work. Sometimes predictions work, but it is also worth taking some chances and having backup plans. Most importantly, supporting and developing employees needs to be emphasized to avoid burnout and reach potential.
Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.