Despite the great fame and attention that comes with being a professional athlete, even the most courageous, and powerful athletes can struggle with mental health. The stigma that is held around mental health often can be found to affect elite athletes who struggle with their mental health to seek and receive the appropriate level of help that they need.
At 23 years young, Simone Biles is a record-breaking woman in the world of sports today. She was the first female gymnast to win four titles at the World Gymnastics Championship and has also accomplished three individual Olympic gold medals, along with several other remarkable titles. With someone as decorated with fancy titles as Biles, she too struggles with her mental health.
In the spring of 2019, Biles opened up in a YouTube original special about her depression. She explained that her depression was related to coping with the experience of being sexually abused while growing up. Biles described to her lawyers that her depression was so severe that she “wanted to sleep all the time because it was the closest thing to death.” To deal with the pain that this causes, she attends therapy as a way of not letting her past taint her passion for her sport. Biles explained that she goes to therapy for mental reasons but beyond therapy she chooses to surround herself with a positive group of individuals, who push, and inspire her to remain healthy and continue to compete in the sport she loves.
Elite athletes like Simone Biles are found to be susceptible to experience a variety of mental health disorders compared to non-elite athletes. While training roughly 32 hours a week, Biles emphasizes the need for a support system during times leading up to important events like Tokyo 2020. In the sports world today it is important that society recognizes the many hours these athletes dedicate and spend preparing for their sport. When the mental health of an athlete is suffering, it is important that they find ways to cope and deal with their health before pushing themselves to their limits in their sport. The sports world today must recognize how impactful one’s mental health can have on performance.
It is important as a society to realize that many people including elite athletes struggle with their mental health. By facing mental health as a whole and disregarding stigma’s that still linger in society today, we will create a world that challenges such issues. It is important to understand that with mental health some days will be better than others, but by working together and helping support one another, the road to beating mental health becomes even more possible. In the world today however, there will always be someone that holds their own beliefs and opinions about receiving adequate support for individuals with mental health issues. It is important to be mindful of other people’s personal decisions regarding their mental health and no individual should shame others for their choices they chose for their health. Whether you are an elite athlete or not, everyone should receive equal access and sufficient mental health care to help with your needs.