This Summer the 2020 Olympics were faced with many struggles whether it was the athletes, the pandemic, and/or the stressors of the events. As viewers of the games, we are only able to see the events and not anything that goes on behind the scenes with the athletes experiences. We are able to see some of the work they put in but not all of the sacrifices they made to get to this moment. The big topic of this year’s Olympics was mental health and the pressure the Olympians are faced with on a daily basis. This allowed for the world to really see the true experiences and struggles of the competitors.
Many Olympic athletes admit to the heavy pressure of stressors and slowly begin to lose who they truly are. This is due to them being so invested in the sport and having the pressure of the fans and the country to medal in their events. Many people aren’t able to see what they are truly going through and then they add more pressure on them due to sometimes inconsiderately forgetting that they are just like you and I. As this began to hit all the news outlets and talk shows, many people began to criticize the athletes who took a backseat to the event or even talked about their mental health.
Simone Biles was the main athlete who first spoke about her mental health issues during this year’s Olympics. She came out about the pressures and struggles of the competition, and how it began to take a toll on her overall health. The gymnastic competition changed the scoring so Biles would not truly win by a landslide and give the other girls a chance to potentially beat her. This change of the system put an added stress on her because it changed how she thought about her performance and how everyone expected her to remain at the top. After Simone spoke out, it seemed like it helped many other athletes come out with their own mental health concerns.
Michael Phelps is another Olympian that stepped throuhg that door of openly sharing about his struggles with mental health and all of the pressure that he had to endure. Over the last few years, he has talked about his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts due to feeling like he was having to carry “the weight of the world” on his shoulders. He advocated strongly for breaking down the stigma of mental health services. It’s so encouraging to see these athletes began to reach out for help and talk out about their struggles and breakthroughs.
These athletes they did what clinical professionals advised was best for them despite some of the negativity they received from others. They were given permission to take a step back and recover and this is a lesson we can all learn from. Therapy was able to help strengthen their mental health, fall back in love with their sport, and be such a great example to many.
Written by Jessica Moskal, Content Contributor