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HOCKEY AND HEALTH: Expert speaks on mental health of athletes during pandemic

Golden Knights Ducks Hockey
Golden Knights
PHOTOS: Vegas Golden Knights
Posted at 9:25 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 02:41:29-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A mental health expert says there is a stigma in the athletic world when it comes to mental health, and that isolation exacerbates it.

“I feel responsible to say something here,” says Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights player. “COVID is dangerous, it’s been a crazy thing for everyone but we were approached and promised for things to change with our league.”

Lehner says that the National Hockey League told players that if they got vaccinated against COVID-19 quarantine restrictions would loosen up.

He says that has not happened.

RELATED: VGK Robin Lehner accuses NHL of lying to players about COVID-19 vaccine and restrictions

“I can’t do anything but be in my home all the time, be in a hotel room all the time,” says Lehner.

The prolonged isolation has become unbearable for those already battling issues with mental health.

Lehner says he has Bipolar Disorder Type One.

“I’ve tried to figure out a way as a good as possible perform which I have done, which doesn’t mean that I am doing good personally.”

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It’s all the more reason mental health advocates want athletes to know it is okay to ask for help.

“They’re very competitive but they also need that comradery to help them through and when they can’t have that, it takes a toll on them,” says Fonda Bryant.

Bryant has trained pro and college athletes across the nation in suicide prevention after having attempted suicide herself years ago.

Bryant says the worst thing athletes face right now is the constant isolation.

“To be in that bubble to not be able to go home and be around their families is very difficult,” says Bryant.

“I hope the NHL will look into opportunities to be able to help these players because if not we will have more athletes not coming forward, or more athletes taking their lives.”