NFL and NFLPA Partner with Cigna to Host Forum on Mental Health in Sports

Members of the athlete community will join medical experts in a discussion geared toward raising awareness around and destigmatizing mental health


Media Contact

Brandon Parker, Senior Communications Manager


Media Contacts:

NFLPA: Brandon Parker | Communications Manager| 202-756-9160

NFL: Taylor Kielpinski-Rogers | Media Relations Manager | 212-450-2683

Cigna: Holly Fussell | Business Communications Lead | 423-304-9128

For Immediate Release
May 3, 2018


Members of the athlete community will join medical experts in a discussion geared toward raising awareness around and destigmatizing mental health

As part of their ongoing efforts to promote player health and wellness, the NFL and NFL Players Association are teaming up with Cigna to host “Beyond The Physical: A Symposium on Mental Health in Sports” on May 14.

The forum, which includes a series of panels featuring NFL players and legends as well as mental health organizations, caregivers, medical providers and media personalities, aims to raise awareness around mental health and promote a culture where everyone, including athletes, are encouraged to seek the help and support they need to achieve overall wellness.

The open dialogue will take place from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center located at 800 Spring St. NW in Atlanta, Georgia.

Confirmed panelists include NFL wide receiver and co-founder of Project 375 BRANDON MARSHALL, former NFL cornerback ASHER ALLEN, former Pro Bowl running back WARRICK DUNN, Atlanta Falcons senior director of player affairs KEVIN WINSTON as well as representatives from Active Minds, Mental Health America (MHA) of Georgia, theAmerican Psychological Association, and Campaign to Change Direction, among others. Shanti Das, founder of the “Silence The Shame” initiative for mental health awareness, will serve as the event emcee.

“Too often in the world of sports, discussions about mental wellness happen during a point of crisis, or when it’s too late,”said DR.NYAKA NIILAMPTI, Director of Player Wellness for the NFLPA.“However, we know that in order to excel athletically, mental health needs to have as much focus as physical health. We feel fortunate to be able to use the platform of sports to engage in this conversation, and the more dialogue we can spark to increase awareness and decrease stigma around mental health, the more positive change that we will see.”

Each panelist will bring a unique perspective as they explore the various aspects of mental health, from increasing awareness to decreasing the stigma to the resources provided for those in need. Topics will range from managing the pressures of being a professional athlete, the mental health side of performance, programs available to the sports community and more.

“May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the NFL is pleased to partner with the NFLPA and Cigna to increase awareness and decrease the stigma around mental health with “Beyond the Physical: A Symposium on Mental Health in Sports,” said NFL Vice President of Wellness and Clinical Services, DWIGHT HOLLIER. “This effort is especially important in light of the messages young athletes receive about toughness and the need to be strong all the time. Through our discussions with caregivers, athletes, professionals and others, we will shine a light on mental health in sports and discuss ways to support athletes and others on the journey toward total wellness.”

“Cigna has been a leader in mental health and benefits for 40 years, and we continue to lead by making sure that emotional well-being is a key part of everyone’s integrated health care experience,” said DR. DOUG NEMECEK, Chief Medical Officer for Cigna's Behavioral Health Business. “We’re proud to support this NFLPA and NFL symposium to help eliminate the stigma around mental health and offer solutions to athletes, their families and our community.”

For more information, please visit our event site.


About the NFL Players Association:
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020.Learn more at

About NFL Wellness:
NFL Total Wellness assists members of the NFL family in dealing with physical and mental health, family safety, lifestyle, and transition into their post-NFL playing experience lives.

The NFL Total Wellness platform empowers players to make positive health decisions; promotes help-seeking behaviors in connection with behavioral and mental health issues; and provides health and safety education for players and all members of their support network, including spouses, parents, and children. The platform expands on a number of NFL Player Engagement programs and service offerings.

About Cigna:
Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 95 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit