Over the past decade, the world has witnessed an increased sense of awareness about mental health conditions. And while that is great news, mental health conditions are still a global health crisis that has to be addressed with much more urgency. Mental health conditions can significantly impact a person’s wellbeing and quality of life to the point of complete obliteration. And for people living under the spotlight, it is no different.
Mental health conditions can affect anyone and everyone, and it is important to shed light on the fact that known figures are not immune to it. And despite the fact that sports can be a great getaway for some people to help them cope with their mental health conditions, it does not mean that athletes won't experience mental illness. In fact, it is reported that around 35% of athletes suffer from mental health conditions. The high level of competition pressure that many athletes undergo can significantly impact their mental wellbeing.
As Clinical Therapist working w/many young athletes, I can tell you the pressure is overwhelming & destroys many great athletes from competing at higher levels. 1/4 ppl will suffer mental health issues. If she had back issues, everyone would be fine.— Angel (@Angel1111summit) May 31, 2021
They are ppl, not products.
In order to be able to collectively move towards helping sports figures, and really anyone suffering from any kind of mental health conditions, it is instrumental to raise awareness, speak up and show them that they are not alone. The good news is that there are some inspiring sports figures who are being outspoken about the issue and are taking active measures to take care of their mental health. Here are a few:
- Naomi Osaka
Osaka is one of the few brave enough to speak up and prioritize her mental health. When faced with the dilemma that she could be expelled for refusing to attend post-matches media events, Osaka showed courage and resilience by deciding to withdraw and focus on her mental health instead.
- Serena Williams
Another pioneering athlete when it comes to speaking up about mental health is Serena Williams. Serena spoke up about her postnatal depression in 2018, and later opened up about what it means to be both a mom and a professional athlete.
- Kevin Love
NBA star Kevin Love spoke up about his anxiety and depression after a public panic attack. Love continues to speak about his mental health and has even written an essay about it.
- Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is living proof that anyone can suffer from a mental illness, even the world’s most decorated Olympian. Phelps is known for more than just his professional career as an athlete. He is also known for being vocal about mental health challenges. He not only spoke about his own struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts, but he also believes that saving someone’s life is far more rewarding than winning a medal.
Many people suffer from mental health conditions that they do not publicly speak about. But one of the many things I learned from my own struggles with depression and anxiety is that speaking up about it can save two lives - yours and some else’s. And that is particularly why it is imperative that more is done to raise awareness about mental illness and how to combat this paralyzing global burden.
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