Even the most powerful and fearless athletes, struggle with mental health. Stigma is the main reason why elite athlete with mental illnesses don’t seek the help they need. Simone Biles, one of the greatest gymnasts of all time has opened up about her depression and sexual abuse growing up.
“I told one of my lawyers, ‘I sleep because it’s the closest thing to death.’”
Biles is a record breaking sportswoman. She is the first female gymnast to win four all around titles at the World Gymnastics Championships. She is the first in US women’s gymnastics to earn four gold medals at one single Olympic game, along with many other remarkable titles. She attends therapy so her past abuse doesn’t affect the joy she feels for the sport.
The available data suggests that elite athletes experience a broadly comparative risk of high-prevalence mental disorders compared to the general population. Training approximately 32 hours a week, Simone Biles as well as many other elite athletes is not only tiring on the body but on the mind as well.
Everyone has mental health struggles. Some days are good, and others are bad. It’s unfortunate that not everyone will support your decision to seek treatment for a mental illness, some people may not even believe mental illnesses exist. We should not shame others for speaking up, but encourage them. Elite athlete or not, everyone deserves adequate mental health care.