DALLAS – Mavs Gaming honored Mental Health Awareness Month in May by addressing mental health awareness in competitive Esports. 

Mavs Gaming partnered with For Oak Cliff and their youth gaming program, with special guests including Mavs head coach LT Fairley and Dr. Nyaz Didehbani from UT Southwestern Psychiatry. The duo discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy mental state during competitive gaming, along with helpful tips on how to reinforce positivity in gaming. Additional resources included tips on how to foster a holistic mental health experience.

“This event was amazing,” said Coach Fairley. “We got to come out here and educate the youth and let them know the importance of mental health. Also, I got a good eye for the future of gaming.” 

This partnership represents the Dallas Mavericks long-standing support of For Oak Cliff’s mission to end systemic oppression by reinforcing education, advocacy, arts and community. This campus is situated in a food, technology, and resource desert which perfectly positions For Oak Cliff to serve as an opportunity incubator for both the at-risk adolescents in the community, as well as their parents.

“We had a conversation about mental health in gaming, so we brought in some kids from the neighborhoods and our programs,” said Xavier Henderson, chief development officer with For Oak Cliff. “They got to hear from some panelists about mental health and taking care of yourself. They provided coping strategies, so kids got exposure to esports mental health.”

Dr. Didehbani said it’s important for kids to know they are supported. 

“These kinds of programs open that door to communication where kids may not realize what the symptoms are and realize that there are resources,” Dr. Didehbani explained. “They might not realize there are people out there to help them, so that they have a place where they feel comfortable. And these kinds of programs can show youth that people are out here to support them. This can really help early on and prevent some of these more tragic things that we hear in the news.”

The Dallas Mavs spotlighted Mental Health Awareness in May and hosted a couple of events that discussed racial and ethnic disparities surrounding mental health

There’s a variety of reasons researchers cite for disparities in mental health utilization among marginalized communities including provider discrimination, stigmas, mistrust of the healthcare system, lack of adequate health insurance, high costs, and limited awareness of mental illnesses.

Others noted that some people perceive mental illness as something that can be overcome using willpower and mental toughness.

Many of these issues are deeply rooted and include cultural, structural, socioeconomic, and economic factors. Sometimes even healthcare providers lack awareness about cultural factors that undermine the patients’ trust in healthcare providers.

There’s another glaring issue on the horizon and that has to do with mental health challenges among adolescents. 

Nationally, some people say we are in a millennial mental health crisis, and we have seen this even trickle over to the sports community in the last year.

The decline in teenagers’ mental health spans racial and ethnic group barriers and urban and rural areas.

According to a recent article from the New York Times, many hospital and doctor groups have called it a national emergency, citing rising levels of mental illness and a severe shortage of therapists and treatment options.

In a rare move this past December, the U.S. surgeon general even warned of a “devastating” mental health crisis among adolescents. Even more terrifying? The report has insufficient data to explain the crisis, one they say that predates the pandemic.  For this reason, communication and education is key and experts say the community must keep an eye out for young people.

Mental Health America reported that most pro gamers are between the ages of 18 and 25, so mental illness is an important topic with this age group. 

First and foremost, mental health should not be a forbidden topic, and the Mavericks and Mavs Gaming hope to encourage other NBA and NBA 2K teams to keep these courageous conversations going. More and more athletes are also using their platforms and time with the media to talk about important issues. 

A recent national survey indicates that nearly 80% of gamers say video games provide them with mental stimulation, relaxation, and stress relief, other gamers, like dedicated athletes that live and breathe the sport, can often battle intense stress, depression, and anxiety.

The first step is to raise awareness, researchers say. They also said it’s important to change the behavior and the system in which gamers interact helps to reduce stigma and encourages them to talk about their anxieties and stress

Others report that extended periods of time play

ing games alone can take a toll on children’s minds and emotions. For this reason, experts agree that balance is key here and young people must also get time outside, exercise and interact with others to stay healthy. 

Following the Mavs Gaming mental health discussion, lunch was provided, and the youth had the opportunity for free gameplay.



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Confidential online chat is available at

Crisis Text Line: 24-hour support by texting HOME to 741741. More information at

North Texas Behavioral Health Authority: 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-866-260-8000 or go to

Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas: Speak to a trained counselor on the 24-hour hotline at 214-828-1000 or 800-273-8255 or go to

Here For Texas Mental Health Navigation Line: Grant Halliburton Foundation initiative that connects North Texans with mental health resources customized to each caller at 972-525-8181 or go to