The Washington Football Team has hired Barbara Roberts, a psychologist and former Georgetown professor, as its first full-time director of wellness and clinical services.

Roberts is only the seventh full-time clinician and only the fourth with a PhD in psychology hired by an NFL team as the league has made mental health more of a priority in recent years. Roberts said her hope is that she can continue to “destigmatize” mental health and “normalize” the process of addressing mental wellness.

“One of the things that we want to do is to look at this very stressful job to have, at every level, at every stage, and to look at developing strategies, programs that target specifically issues that they may have,” Roberts said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “… We want to normalize the process to be here, to be available to them, and I always tell people that I work with that it’s 24/7, so if an issue comes up at 3 a.m., you don’t feel like you have to wait. You can go ahead and call. We have a team here that is responsive with every issue that arises.”

Roberts said she has met with Washington’s rookie class several times to incorporate some of the training skills that are mandated by the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union. She also met with players after they took physicals for the offseason workout program and shared with them that she would like to meet with them individually as well.

In 2019, the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to expand mental health resources available to players and required that every team have a behavior health clinician at the team’s facility at least eight to 12 hours per week.

Roberts, a former clinical associate professor in the department of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center, was also a senior policy analyst and coordinator for health policy in the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fisk University (Tenn.) and her PhD from the University of Oklahoma, and she spent many years as a consultant for the NFL.

Roughly 12 years ago, Washington’s chief medical officer, Anthony Casolaro, was referred to her as a resource for players on a part-time basis, and earlier this year the team approached her about a full-time position. Her role became full-time within the past several days, according to a team spokesman.

Monica A. Page, a psychologist in Virginia, was previously the team’s clinician but on a part-time basis.

“I think over time, when this position opened up, there was kind of a mutual awareness that we needed to become proactive, working with players from the beginning rather than address the problem after,” Roberts said. “What I do see here is, number one, an effort to incorporate me into the structure. That’s Step 1 in terms of normalizing this issue of mental health and mental wellness. And also saying to the players, ‘Hey, look, we understand that there are issues here, and we want to be responsive to those.’ ”