This week, as the NBA finals are underway, Laura talks with Dr. William Parham, the inaugural Director of the Mental Health and Wellness Program of the National Basketball Players Association. Dr. Parham is a Psychologist and Professor of Counseling at Loyola Marymount University, and together he and Laura explore many of the current, and historic, forces that impact the mental health of NBA players and other elite athletes. They cover everything from the legacy of systematic oppression and structural supremacy to professional sports’ present day responsibility to treat athletes as multi-faceted individuals, often with complex lives, and – as Dr. Parham explains – invisible tattoos. Through their conversation they talk about not just how to obtain, but also how to maintain, one’s mental health. While professional and collegiate sports have a long way to go in terms of dismantling the barriers for athletes who want to care for their whole selves, knowing that Dr. Parham is a part of that change is, indeed, inspiring.
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About Dr. Parham
Dr. William Parham is the first-ever Director of Mental Health and Wellness Program with the National Basketball Players Association. He is a member of the mental health and wellness task force of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and a member of an international think tank on the mental health and wellness of athletes. Dr. Parham is also a Professor in the Counseling Program and Interim Director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University.
He is widely known through his scholarship and conversations with domestic and international audiences for his work on the interplay between sport psychology, multiculturalism/diversity, trauma, and health psychology. His participation on local, state and national boards, committees, task forces, and positions of governance demonstrate more of the ways in which he has tried to make a difference.