CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland NAACP held a virtual community conversation on mental health issues faced by African American men, including the impact that racism can have on the well being of African American men.
Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, as one of just 30 head coaches in the NBA, holds a powerful position as someone who can influence change in how African American men meet any mental health issues they may face.
Bickerstaff has a front row seat to the mental health issues that may exist in a league that is 75 percent African American.
“That’s part of our fight is nobody wants to admit to it, no one wants to say it’s me, no one wants to raise their hand because they are afraid of growing up and being called soft,” he said as part of the panel discussion.
The conversation steered to incidents of racism, and how it can dramatically affect the mental health of African American men.
Mental health issues can grow to worrisome levels, in these times, Bickerstaff remarked, if there is a reluctance to ask for help.
“How can we impact others in a way we want to impact them, in a positive way, if we’re struggling with ourselves inside and don’t have the tools to solve or help with what we’re battling,” Bickerstaff said.
Professional relationships can be impacted and so too can personal relationships, even more so with the added stress of racial issues that may be triggering mental health issues.
To make that point Bickerstaff offered a personal example of his own.
“Understanding and explaining it to my kids and who I have to be, so that my kids can understand and see something and move them to want to do things in a positive way as they grow,” he said.
The virtual community conversation was the first in what the Cavs are calling their Time to Talk Series.