As the United States has slowly begun expanding its awareness on issues regarding mental health, the sports sector has started to open up on the issues high-profile athletes face. As a result, the National Basketball Association has announced their first ever director of mental health.
As of May 31, Dr. William Parham will be in charge of the NBA’s new program titled, NBPA Mental Health and Wellness Program, for basketball players right away. Along with the program, Parham will aid members of the NBA union regarding the mental health of the players and any other issues and concerns they may experience.
Sports and hobbies often have beneficial effects on mental health. In fact, 81% of people with depression felt better after performing a simple crafting task like knitting, according to a study by The British Journal of Occupational Therapy. However, when your hobby becomes your job, many athletes are consumed by the stress and other mental tolls associated with high-profile sports.
Athletes including Michael Phelps, Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, and Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, have all come forward with their stories on depression, anxiety, and panic attacks over the course of the last few months. Some of their battles have been severe enough to keep them benched during games.
And this isn’t just an issue for athletes. Well-known announcer, Mauro Ranallo, released his documentary, “Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller,” a biopic that covers his journey with mental health on May 25. He claims he was inspired by the stories he heard from various athletes and wants to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
Athletes and those associated with sports, like Ranallo, have noted the importance of realizing that mental health effects anyone.
Love writes in one article, “The reality is that we probably have a lot in common with what our friends and colleagues and neighbors are dealing with. Mental health is an invisible thing, but it touches all of us at some point or another.”
NBA athletes now have a new avenue to discuss and desensitize issues surrounding mental health, primarily because of the stories that have arisen over the course of the last few months. NBPA executive director, Michele Roberts, notes that the organization plans to prioritize mental health and issues surrounding overall mental wellness with the addition of Parham on the NBA board.
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