The Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee is comprised of experts appointed by the league and the NFLPA. The Committee develops educational programs for players, coaches, club personnel, and players’ family members regarding mental health and wellness. The Committee also collaborates with local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations to reduce stigma related to mental health and promote suicide prevention and awareness. The committee develops models of player programming for specific needs including: transiting in and out of the NFL, social connectedness and resilience, navigating injury, and promoting peer support. Sub-committees for education, partnerships, and program evaluation convene regularly to develop and oversee specific initiatives.
- Normalize accessing behavioral health resources to players, and all members of the player ecosystem, including staff and significant others
- Increase utilization of behavioral health resources
- Create tailored behavioral health programming specific to the player journey (both within and away from the team)
- Assist in fostering a club culture that ensures a community-wide, holistic approach to care
- Establish effective partnerships with local and national organizations to assist in programming and stigma reduction efforts
Areas of Focus
- Developing and scheduling educational programs for coaches, players, and club staff
- Developing programming for families and significant others
- Developing criteria for identifying local and national suicide prevention and mental health organizations for collaboration purposes
- Developing models of player programming for specific needs including: transitioning in and out of the NFL, social connectedness and resilience, injured players, and peer support
- Thom Mayer, MD, FACEP, FAAPDr. Thom Mayer is the Medical Director of the NFL Players Association, a position he assumed at the request of Gene Upshaw on the day Korey Stringer, a tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, passed away from heat stroke. The NFLPA had never before had a Medical Director. Under the leadership of current NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, Dr. Mayer and his team pioneered a new era in assuring that the health and safety of NFL athletes are protected. Heat illness, traumatic brain injuries, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal injuries, and strength training are all now subject to strict guidelines. In this critical role for the NFLPA, he has become one of the most trusted and widely-respected physicians in sports medicine. He is also recognized as an expert in emergency medicine, pediatric emergency medicine, trauma and healthcare leadership. With regard to sports medicine, leadership development, service excellence and patient flow, he is the most respected and widely known emergency physician in the nation. Dr. Mayer has published over 90 articles, 100 book chapters, and has edited 15 textbooks. He has spoken at over 200 national and international conferences on sports medicine and emergency medicine. On September 11, 2001 Dr. Mayer served as one of the Command Physicians at the Pentagon Rescue Operation, coordinating medical assets at the site. The BestPractices physicians at Inova Fairfax Hospital were the first to successfully diagnose and treat inhalational anthrax victims during the fall 2001 anthrax crises, and Dr. Mayer has served the Department of Defense on Defense Science Board Task Forces on Bioterrorism, Homeland Security, and consequences of Weapons of Mass Destruction. His expertise and insights in crisis management are thus informed by hard-won experience. Dr. Mayer’s academic appointments are as Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the George Washington and Senior Lecturing Fellow, Duke University School of Medicine.
- Allen Sills, MD, FACSIn March 2017, Dr. Allen Sills was named the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), a new full-time position based in New York. Dr. Sills joins the NFL from Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he serves as Professor of Neurological Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, and Founder and Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center. Dr. Sills, a neurosurgeon who has specialized in the treatment of athletes, will strengthen the NFL’s ongoing efforts to advance the health and safety of the sport. He will work closely with team medical staffs across the league, the NFL Players Association and its advisors and the many medical and scientific experts who comprise the NFL’s medical committees and guide the NFL’s health and research efforts. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Sills has worked with numerous professional and collegiate sports programs. In addition to providing care for players on NFL sidelines as an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant, he has served as a neurological consultant to the NCAA and the International Equestrian Foundation (FEI). He has also worked as consulting neurosurgeon for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, the NHL’s Nashville Predators, the US Equestrian Foundation and all Vanderbilt University, Belmont University and Mississippi State University athletic teams. Dr. Sills is an active researcher who has published more than 150 scientific articles and presentations including more than 40 in the last five years on the topic of sports concussion. He is a member of the Concussion in Sport Group, which publishes international standards regarding concussion in sport. Dr. Sills is also a fellow of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American College of Surgeons and currently serves as Section Editor for Sports and Rehabilitation for the journal Neurosurgery. Previously, Dr. Sills has served as Founder and Executive Director, Memphis Regional Brain Tumor Center; Director of the Neuroscience Institute at Methodist University Hospital, Memphis; Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee, Memphis and the Semmes-Murphey Clinic; and Chief, Division of Neurosurgery at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Sills graduated summa cum laude from Mississippi State University with a degree in engineering and received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, where he also completed his internship in General Surgery, his residency training in Neurological Surgery and an NIH-funded Neuro-Oncology Fellowship.
Dr. Sills and his wife Shawne live in Tennessee and have four children. He serves on the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County Tennessee and has served as a youth baseball coach for more than 20 years.
- Nyaka NiiLampti, PhDNyaka NiiLampti, Ph.D. is currently the Vice President of Wellness and Clinical Services for the National Football League. In her role, she is responsible for implementing and expanding the Total Wellness platform, ensuring a holistic approach to the care of players and members of the NFL family. The goal of the Total Wellness platform includes overall wellness, family safety, healthy lifestyle development, and transition support through clinical resources, education and awareness efforts, peer-to-peer connections, research, and an overall proactive approach. Through a series of touchpoints, Dr. NiiLampti is charged with developing, managing, and promoting all aspects of this platform along a variety of internal and external stakeholders: active players and Legends, NFL club and League staff, player support systems, governing bodies, and the broader community. Nyaka is a licensed psychologist with twenty years of clinical experience, and has worked extensively with organizations, sports teams, individuals, and families in a variety of settings, including community mental health, college counseling centers, and in private practice. She most recently served as the Director of Player Wellness for the NFL Players Association, where she focused on providing resources and educating players on all aspects of wellness and served as an advocate for players by ensuring their rights are protected under the NFL Drug Policies. Before joining the NFLPA, Dr. NiiLampti was a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Psychology at Queens University of Charlotte, where she taught undergraduate courses in multiple areas and served as the Faculty Athletic Representative to the NCAA. During that time, she also provided comprehensive services in private practice, focused primarily on athlete wellbeing and performance-related concerns as well as serving as a Treating Clinician for the NFL Program for Substances of Abuse and as an approved clinician for the NBA/NBPA Player Assistance/Anti-Drug Program. Her research interests focused on multiculturalism and mental health, particularly as those concepts relate to issues of resiliency and success, and she provided local and national trainings, workshops, and lectures on a variety of topics including aspects of cultural diversity and identity, athletes and mental health, and student-athlete transition. A former track and field college student-athlete, Nyaka has a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, an M.A. with a concentration in Sport Psychology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. from Temple University.
- Amber Cargill, PsyD
- Sidney Hankerson, MD
- George Wrighster