Simone Biles Prioritizes her Mental Health

Worldwide known gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the all-around gymnastics’ competition in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo this august. Going into the summer games, Biles was the biggest start of the Women’s Gymnastics. Biles went to Tokyo as the reigning world champion in the balance beam event. During her last Olympic Games in 2016, Biles took home a total of 5 medals. She won 4 gold medals in the following events: Team, All around, Vault and Floor. Biles also secured a bronze medal in the beam event. With all eyes on her, one can only imagine the pressure she would have been feeling.   

Biles has previously spoken out about her struggles with mental health. As if the pressure from the Olympic games could not be enough, athletes had to adapt to this stress all while adapting to the daily changes during the COVID-19 global pandemic. After developing a case of “the twisties”, when a gymnast loses their place in the air, Biles knew it was time to make a tough choice. For fear of injuring herself and costing her team a medal, Biles decided to withdrawal from the remainder of the games.   

Simone Biles and USA gymnastics team speaking about her withdrawal

Mental health continues to be a prevalent topic in society. Previous studies have shown the most common mental health issues within athletes. Jessica Bartley, a psychologist and the director of mental health services for the US olympic teamspoke about the prevalence of mental health issues weighing on the athletes at the game. She reported receiving roughly ten calls daily during the games to support athlete’s needs. The courageous decision made by Biles to prioritize her mental health has changed the conversation about athletes’ mental health. Biles’ decision gave the other athletes the courage they needed to seek help when needed and talk freely about their mental health.  


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