Simone Biles; 7 Pro Athletes with Mental Disorders
After Simon Biles exited the Olympics over mental strain, she put a spotlight on Mental Health in Sports and the overwelming pressue to compete.
Athletes with Mental Disorders usually results from the pressure to compete and be the best exacerbating and creating additional struggles for those athletes.
Not being able to compete can be even more brutal when their brain has been reprogrammed to compete no matter what. In addition to depression and anxiety, athletes can experience burn out and some even eating disorders from the pressures of trying to obtain perfection.
Why we Need a Reform That Opens a Dialog Around Mental Health in Athletic Programs
Athletes from Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Ronda Rousey, and more, all experienced some sort of mental disorder. And, it raises an important point. While athletes are taught how to maintain great physical shape and physical endurance, athletes are not taught about mental health and how the profession of sports can impact these struggles. Now, there seems to be a shift as we learn more to include mental health liaisons in place to help. However, its still problematic because athletes with mental disorders are not given much psychoeducation before the problem occurs. This and the stigma around seeking help leads many to avoid reaching out.
Simon Biles shedding light on Mental Health
Simon Biles has 31 Olympic and World Championship medals and is one of the top gymnasts in the program and her exit out of the Olympics puzzled everyone. After struggling to land , she discovered her head wasn’t in it. She wasn’t able to focus and that developed a fear for her that she could obtain an injury. She drew criticism for abandoning the Olympic opportunity and her teammates. Yet, she knew she had to take care of herself. Biles did what many athletes with mental disorders are afraid to do, in today’s high pressure environment; she chose her own mental wellbeing.
“[The team was] totally prepared, but it just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head. Like, you want to do it for yourself but you’re still too worried about what everybody else is going to say. At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me.”
Michael Jordan; Burn Out, Mental Fatigue, Grief
During the Bulls’ 1993 Eastern Conference Finals, Michael Jordan had to escape and went to Atlantic City with his father. Jordan led the Bulls to three NBA championships which took both a physical and mental toll on the legendary athlete with pressue to perform. Then, after his father was murdered, Jordan took another break in which he withdrew from playing basketball due to an enormous amount of grief from losing his father.
Michael Phelps Turned to Advocate
Please take two-minutes.
Here’s the full clip of Michael Phelps talking about mental-health.
Pass it on if you feel it…pic.twitter.com/3ZaZf3OwfF
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 28, 2021
Michael Phelps dominated in the 2008 World Olympics and encountered blowback after caught smoking weed and from DUI. As a result, the superstar swimmer went int a rehab clinic in Arizona where he cited depression, anxiety, and suicial ideation.
In may 2019, Phelps gave this statement.
“I struggled with anxiety and depression and questioned whether or not I wanted to be alive anymore. It was when I hit this low that I decided to reach out and ask for help.”
Now, he has spent his time encouraging others to reach out to get the help they need.
Ronda Rousey; Generational History of Suicidal Ideation
Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey won serveral record-breaking UFC titles. But, when she lost in November 2015 to Holly Holm. Then, experienced suicidal ideation when she was placed on a medical suspension. Depression and sucidal ideation was a generational struggle in which both her father and grandfather took their own lives.
“It’s not a weakness we should condemn. I’ve nver shied away from talking about suicide…Anything that I could do to make sure itaffects as few people as possible.”
Naomi Osaka; Pressures With Fame
Naomi Osaka shone a light on her struggles with mental health when she withdrew from the 2021 French Open tournament June. Due to her newfound fame, she became both a domestic and international star. As a result, Osaka experienced high levels of anxiety and refused to speak to the media. She wouldn’t participate in wimbledon but did play in the Olympics as a representative for Japan.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
Clint Malarchuk Experience with PTSD
NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk described symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that resulted after he experienced a dramatic game-time injury in 1989.
“I’d sit straight up in a chair so I wouldn’t go into a deep sleep” to avoid “[visualizing] in a dream the flashback of that skate coming up and cutting my jugular vein.”
Following the incident, in which he miraculously survived thanks to some quick thinking, he experienced PTSD, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and struggled with alcohol abuse that began to effect his personal relationships. Malarchuk even attempted suicide by gun and luckily was able to survive. But it didn’t stop everything he was feeling or his symptoms. However, what did was getting diagnosed and having a name for what he was going through. Now, he speaks about his experience as an advocate for mental health to keep others from going down similar dark roads.
Ricky Williams Social Struggles
Chopped it up with Longhorns great Ricky Williams about Simone Biles deciding to step away from the Olympics to take care of her mental health.
Williams stepped away from the NFL, at the height of his career, to do the same.
Here's what he had to say: pic.twitter.com/7FjgUbwvpf
— Victor Jaymes 🏁 (@vicjaymes) July 28, 2021
NFL running back Ricky Williams struggled with social anxiety disorder and would even give interviews with his helmet on. He would avoid interactions with both with fans and teammates. For those unfamiliar with social anxiety, it is an intense fear of social interactions that causes irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment.
“It’s just that, a platform. I did abandon my teammates, right. But, in doing that, I stopped abandoning myself. And, when I got back I had more to offer, not only my teammates, but my friends, family, and my community.”
Read more: 5 Celebrities with Depression