Chicago Sky launches The Net – a mental health initiative

HICAGO (3 Aug 2022) — As mental health issues grab the headlines in sports — and women’s sports in particular — WNBA championship team Chicago Sky is launching The Net (a network supporting mental health in sports), an initiative to make mental health a priority for athletes power . Developed in partnership with Chicago agency OKRP, The Net is an interconnected set of resources designed to help athletes prioritize their mental health and provide comprehensive support.

The Net debuts a series of motivational and moving videos from Sky players Azurá Stevens, Rebekah Gardner and Ruthy Hebard at Chicago Sky’s home game on August 7th. Their individual stories are brought to life through a series of player trading cards that feature each player in an action shot on the front, while a list of mental health management tools such as journaling, mediation, therapy and more are on the back find is. The “Keep your Head in the Game” mantra is also highlighted in a t-shirt worn by players and staff during warm-ups and presented to fans on match day through the support of sponsor Mesirow, the official mental health partner Of the sky.

“The Chicago Sky is honored to partner with organizations like Mesirow, OKRP and City Year to raise awareness of mental health and make a lasting impact in our community,” said Adam Fox, Team President and CEO. “Gamers shouldn’t have to ‘play through the pain’ and we’re especially proud of our players: Azurá, Rebekah and Ruthy, who shared their journey to help the next generation of athletes be better prepared to face mental challenges. This is a big step forward in destigmatizing this issue.”

The opening game also serves as a backdrop to show how mental health can be prioritized in sport. There will be a “moment of gratitude” presented by Dr. Janet Taylor, Mental Health and Wellness Coach, to give players and fans a chance to reflect on the positive moments in their lives. And Sky Sports psychologist Patrice Whitfield will sit close to the team coaches and strength and conditioning staff to reiterate that taking care of your head is just as important as taking care of your body.

“For too long players have been viewed as one-dimensional superstars whose athletic achievements are celebrated and debated,” said Azurá Stevens, Forward/Center for the Chicago Sky. “But among the trash talk and 3-pointers, a lot of us struggle with the pressure to be perfect, work flawlessly and do everything with a smile. We get hurt and face the mental challenge of getting better. Sharing these stories humanizes us and helps people see how we deal with trauma – and hopefully it helps others who are struggling with the same issues.”

The network represents an ongoing commitment by Chicago Sky to serve as a model for an organization that uplifts the world of women athletes through an environment that normalizes mental health conversations, support and solutions within the arena and beyond. One website,, provides additional links and supportive services and organizations, including the NBA Mental Health Resources website.

In addition to in-game actions, the team and its partners will use social and paid media to share powerful messages to break the stigma surrounding mental health. The August 7th game is tip only as The Sky will seek to create a broad network of mental health support and resources for athletes of all ages and skill levels.

“Many of us at OKRP have had first-hand experience of the devastation that mental health issues can bring,” said Betsy Ross, OKRP’s head of client business. “To be able to create something with Heaven that can further destigmatize the mental health challenges in professional sports and improve mental self-care along with physical conditioning is so important. Harnessing the power of communication for the benefit of all is truly why we are all in this business.”

The Chicago Sky is also supported by City Year, NAMI Chicago Chapter and IDPH.

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