Blanton-Peale Institute Honors Former NBA Star Keyon Dooling

The mental health service organization is recognizing Dooling’s work raising awareness about the unique mental health issues players in the NBA face.

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- Posted on Mar 15, 2019

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Founded in 1937 by Guideposts Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and the psychiatrist Dr. Smiley Blanton, the Blanton-Peale Institute’s mission is to bring psychology and spirituality together to help people flourish. Each year the organization honors individuals and companies doing just that at the Norman Vincent Peale Awards.

This year, Keyon Dooling, who played in the NBA for 12 seasons and now works as a Wellness Counselor for the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Mental Health and Wellness Program, is receiving the award “For championing the importance of mental and spiritual wellbeing.”

In 2012, Dooling was institutionalized after traumatic memories resurfaced. He had spent years running from his past, refusing to seek help. It wasn’t until he sought treatment and received a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that Dooling began to recognize the importance of mental health.

Following his release from the hospital, Dooling retired from basketball and has made it his mission to raise mental health awareness in the league. His focus now with the NBA’s players association is to provide a service that did not exist when he was player.

“I go to the games and connect with the guys,” Dooling told Guideposts.org. “Our primary goal is to support [the players] and nudge them towards getting therapy so they can heal mentally, emotionally from their journeys. So that they can be at their best selves as athletes, as professional athletes.”

Dooling had help in his recovery journey—from mental health professionals and his faith.

“Faith is at the center of my healing process,” Dooling said.

Dooling discovered Dr. Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking while in the healing process. He said it brought together faith and provided practical principles to add to his recipe for healing. Dooling is adamant, though, that medical help is also important.

“Faith without works is dead,” he said. “You can call out to God. But your second call should be the doctor."

Dooling confronts taboos and myths about mental health not only through his work with the NBA, but also in sharing his powerful story at events and conferences across the country. He wants people to know they’re not alone.

“If you struggle with anxiety or depression…you’re not crazy!” Dooling says. “You’re normal. You just have to deal with what you're grappling with, so that you can be your best self.”

Dooling’s commitment to faith and positive thinking are what made him an ideal recipient for the Norman Vincent Peale Award, said Dr. Shari Brink, President & CEO of Blanton-Peale.

“As a professional athlete and an authentic leader, his voice helps destigmatize mental illness and creates hope for  those who look up to him,” Dr. Brink said. “Keyon Dooling carries the spirit of the co-founders of Blanton-Peale forward today.”

The gala will be held on April 30 in New York City.  

“Start your healing process,” Dooling said. “Pray about it, ask the Lord to help heal you. And then go out and get the resources that are in alignment with the healing that you need.”

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