Mental Health: The Need of the Hour

MENTAL HEALTH: THE NEED OF THE HOUR

An extraordinary time of calls for a memorable Olympics. Instead of medals, athletes embraced their vulnerability on the centre stage. World-class athlete Simon Biles withdrew herself from the ongoing Tokyo Olympics on the grounds of declining mental health. 

ATHLETES RISE IN SUPPORT OF BILES

Simon Biles entered the competition as a decorated gymnast but left as an icon.

While her display of courage made headlines and attracted media traction, several other athletes rose in her support.

Many sportspersons have highlighted the gravity of the issue about their declining mental health in the past. 

Adam Peaty showcasing his support towards Simon Biles, said that he had roughly taken a leave of 2 weeks a year for the past seven years.

Simultaneously, British Olympian Charlotte Dujardin projected sympathy for Biles, referring to her battles with depression following her wins at the London Olympics 2012. 

Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the Frech open earlier this year also stirred up conversations regarding the importance of mental well-being in sports.

Michael Phelps also spoke up about his battle with mental health. 

THE CONSTANT PRESSURE

While representing your sport and nation on a global platform is an honour to behold, it is also a huge responsibility.

It comes with its own set of challenges. The pandemic has only added its horrors to athletes’ training and stagnation in the sports atmosphere in general.

The entire stigma surrounding mental health and vulnerability leads athletes to brush it off and push themselves up to a point beyond their cognitive capabilities.

Mental health does not knock at one’s door based on their accomplishments and wealth. It can happen to anyone, anytime- and sportspersons are no exception to this.

Several factors can be linked to the increasing mental strain on athletes.

One of the significant factors is the competitive pressure to perform and deliver. Athletes tend to train up to the point of mental and physical burnout.

The sword-swinging above their head builds up anxiety and depression, and it may also pave the way for eating disorders.

The glorification of the “hustle” and “over-working” lifestyle also plays a vital role. Many athletes also suffer from a comptonization of identity; they do not know themselves outside their sport. 

MENTAL HEALTH: THE NEED OF THE HOUR

POSITIVE CULTURE SHIFT

More and more athletes coming out and speaking up about their mental health issues is essential because the showcase of vulnerability and the willingness to speak up justifies those mental issues affect everyone.

Mental illnesses come unannounced regardless of a person’s position, age, gender, and even support system.

The display of courage by putting oneself before their achievements stirs up conversations about mental health worldwide, which is the need of the hour. 

On the one hand, while the internet trolls do not spare a chance to lash out, the enormous acceptance and support have been overwhelming.

This changing dynamic is but a huge accomplishment and evidence of a drastic cultural shift in place.

The acknowledgement and acceptance of mental illnesses without shame is a huge step in the positive direction.

These instances highlight the issue that was brushed under the carpet for decades and paves the way for developing strategies and healthy coping mechanisms to reduce the pressure. 

A DELICATE BALANCE

While competition is essential at global events, peace of mind and mental health stands more critical.

These instances prove that mental health is no joke.

While healthy competition is encouraged, staying motivated and at the top of one’s game at all times is simply an unreasonable demand of the field.

Competing at an Olympic level requires more than just physical training.

It calls for peace of mind and the ability to cope with losses. It requires a delicate balance of physical and mental strength. 

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4 comments
  1. Yes ✊ Athletes are not defined by the medals they win at the Olympics. Athletes are much more than that!!! They are stories, legends. They live forever. Simone Biles stood up and changed things on the biggest sporting stage! Was absolutely incredible to witness. Aastha! Amazing amazing article. Well written, precise and clear. I wait for more! 🤩

  2. Anyone who is stressed can develop signs of mental ill health. It’s more so for athletes coz they are constantly under pressure to perform especially in our country where governmental support is minimal and sometimes family also can’t afford. Mental health very aptly described Aastha. Thanks for highlighting it.

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