Phoenix, AZ (July 31, 2023) – Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner will not travel with the team for its upcoming two-game road trip to focus on her mental health, the team announced Saturday.
Griner, who was released from Russian custody in February after nearly 10 months of detention, has been open about the toll her experience has taken on her mental health. In a recent interview with ESPN, she said she was “terrified” to return to Russia and that she had “nightmares about being locked up again.”
“I’m still trying to process everything that’s happened,” Griner said. “It’s been a really difficult time for me.”
The Mercury said in a statement that they “fully support Brittney and we will continue to work together on a timeline for her return.”
Griner’s absence from the team comes at a critical time in the WNBA season. The Mercury are currently in 10th place in the Western Conference, and they are fighting to make the playoffs.
It is unclear when Griner will return to the team. However, the Mercury said that they are “committed to supporting Brittney in her journey to recovery.”
“We know that this is a challenging time for her, and we want to make sure she has the resources she needs to get better,” the team said.
Griner’s situation has drawn attention to the mental health challenges that athletes face. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need for athletes to have access to mental health services.
“Brittney’s story is a reminder that mental health is just as important as physical health,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “We are committed to providing Brittney with the support she needs to recover and to return to the game she loves.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please reach out for help. There are many resources available, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).