Brittney Griner: Taking Mental-Health Break from WNBA Has 'Done Wonders for Me'

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Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner grabs a rebound during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sparks, Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner grabs a rebound during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sparks, Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner said leaving the WNBA bubble in August did "wonders" for her mental health.

Griner said Thursday, per Mechelle Voepel of ESPN:

"With everything that was going on, everything I was dealing with, I just needed to take that leave. I've never been shy [about] saying I definitely used counseling a lot when I left, and it's helped me out tremendously. I think more people should be open to talking about mental-health issues. Instead of holding in so much.

"It's done wonders for me. I'm in a place now where I feel amazing. I took that time to work on my body as well. The rehab on my knee and other parts of my body. I'm feeling good and ready to go now."

Griner participated in 12 games during the 2020 season before leaving the Mercury for personal reasons. She recently returned to the floor with UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian women's professional team with which she has played since 2014.

The six-time WNBA All-Star is back stateside for a USA Basketball training camp. She said speaking about her mental health difficulties has helped her:

"One, just owning up to it and saying it. We don't talk about things, and in certain communities we really don't talk about our feelings. It's just, 'Put it in a box and forget about it, push it to the back.' That's something I think has hurt us as a society. And it's something that's going to change with more athletes speaking up about it."

Griner is planning to play in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, provided they move ahead as scheduled.