THEBOXHOUSTON.com – Houston Rockets rookie forward Royce White talked with the Madd Hatta Morning Show about his recent suspension due to him missing training camp, and refusing to accept the assignment to the Rockets’ D-League team.
White, who suffers from anxiety, says there is a stigma of mental health in the NBA and that he is hoping that him speaking out about his anxiety disorder will help catalyze a protocol on how to deal with mental health issues within the league.
Listen to the full interview below as Royce explains his mental illness, the stigma of mental health and when he is due to return to basketball:
On his mental illness and communication with the NBA:
I have a number of mental issues and none of them are severe alone, for example my anxiety affects me on a daily basis but when exacerbated then it has physical symptoms, just like an physical injury. So if I had a heart condition, my heart would beat the same way with anxiety. So we put a plan into play to limit the exacerbations, obviously flying was one, so we are gonna do the bus to the games that you can make and it was all good! Then we started having some other communication issues and then I started having some serious exacerbations such as migraines I had never experienced before. Then my family practitioner who diagnosed me put a stop on it and said, “Hey, we need a protocol here because we are making it up as we go and that’s irresponsible for mental health. Mental health needs specific care and if we aren’t gonna put a plan into play then we are willing to take all the consequences that come with not supporting mental illness in the right way.
On mental illness having little awareness in society as a whole:
The reality is that mental health has always been talked about in hush tones, its one of the greatest social issues of our time with the least amount of awareness. Cancer, Obesity, Heart Disease, we talk about everything else and mental illness is on the back burner. On a larger scale mental health is not talked about by the public in general or the goverment. It’s kind of like the homosexuality [stigma] of ten years ago.
On his refusal of practice and play for the Rockets:
The facts are that I was not doing practices, going to games, attending team functions, I was at my home, working with doctors they recommended. Actually their doctors recommended we put a protocol in place, and I worked with them on the protocol, we submitted it when it was ready and I wasn’t participating with the team far before the D-List assignment ever came. Now once you get over that reality, now we are talking about whats really going on? But we want to continue to talk about something that it’s not about, to avoid the real issue – mental health is being overlooked and it is the most serious type of health condition.
On the Rockets coach supporting is mental health issue compared to his coach in college:
He has very little control over this team, from a basketball side he has say but from a business and operational level, he has very little say and that’s one the big issues here. My college coach had a heart condition and understood that health should always take precedence and it’s not happening that way because the [Rockets] management feels a bit different. There has been an issue that has been identified, mental health is not descriptive enough in the CBA, in the UPC. It being so vague, makes us make it up as we go, we need to rectify it so that the environment is safe. That’s all we are doing here, we are trying to figure out the best way to execute.
His take on media coverage:
We have to be more responsible with always trying to make two sides against each other because it’s not like that. There’s a real issue here, the NBA agrees, the union agrees, the Rockets know this is all new to the NBA and we all need to figure out how to execute. If I have to be the bad guy until we do then so be it.
On his public twitter rant:
I believe in the truth, being politically correct keeps us from resolutions. I believe if I stick with the truth, eventually it will come around and thats what happening now, we realize the CBA is very vague on how to deal with health. But it takes us to come full circle, have the arguments and the discussions to get there. Twitter has been a positive. Anytime you get somebody to admit their mental health issues with the stigma that exists today, that’s a huge step in the right direction for the entire mental health community. As much as we think of basketball and sports and millions of dollars, the reality is there are normal human beings who have anxiety and depression and all kinds of things that are way bigger than basketball.
On whether he will return to the court:
Any hour now, this whole thing will be over and I am supposed to return to the D-League Feb. 11th.