While there are strides being made in the Black community to erase the stigma of seeking treatment for mental health, one aspect of therapy preventing many of us from taking the plunge is well, the cost. For NBA superstar Paul George, the money might not have ever been a burden, but figuring out how to address his own mental health needs certainly was. And with his new partnership with BetterHelp, he’s looking to take on both issues, not only to reinforce his commitment to his own journey, but to help others, especially Black men, get started on theirs as well.
George tells PEOPLE that discussing mental health is “a tough conversation” for most men, but “especially in the African American community, it’s always been a stigma.”
“We’re so taught to keep our emotions in and work through them ourselves, that you think you’re weak if you need help,” he continued.
Throughout his participation in the 2020 NBA Bubble, George became a poster boy for athletes and managing mental health issues as he fought to overcome anxiety and depression during the competition.
“That was like my pit,” he tells PEOPLE.
If you recall, the NBA power forward faced a season-ending embarrassing loss alongside Kawhi Leonard inside the Disney World basketball bubble. Because of a low moment in his court performance, he quickly became online fodder, with trolls from every corner of the net coming to harass and further embarrass him.
After being nicknamed “Pandemic P” due to the 2020 elimination, George says that looking back, talking about his depression publicly for the first time “was like my coming out party.”
“When I had that moment, of saying like, ‘Hey, I’m not okay right now, there’s stuff going on and I don’t know how to address it, I don’t know how to figure this out.’ “
The seven-time NBA All-Star says he’s “got so much that I deal with on a day-to-day,” and now, he knows “it’s okay to ask for a little help in certain situations.”
George began seeing a therapist and has expressed the benefits of having someone to talk to. “It’s just good to have someone else’s perspective,” he says.
The Clippers star recently took to Twitter announcing his partnership with BetterHelp, a mental health platform that offers online services connecting patients to professionals. He’s giving away a free month of services to those who apply and qualify, a total of $3M in services.
George says he’s now using his platform to “really help others” through the partnership.
“And I’m really proud of that.”