- Simone Biles, a gymnast, has shown that it’s fine not to be perfect.
- Biles had developed the “twisties,” a condition in which gymnasts lose control of their bodies in the air. It is frequently triggered by fear or pressure.
- Biles has demonstrated to the world that mental health is a cornerstone of our overall well-being by prioritizing it.
After withdrawing from the Olympic women’s gymnastics team final and then the all-around competition, Simone Biles dominated headlines this week.
Biles stated today that she will compete on the balancing beam in the final gymnastics competition.
Biles initially stated that she was withdrawing from the competition because of a physical issue, but she later explained that she was taking a break to focus on her mental health.
Biles, who is recognized for her remarkable ability to flip in the air and land on her feet, had developed the “twisties,” a condition in which gymnasts lose control in the air. It is frequently triggered by fear or pressure.
Because Biles is such a skilled gymnast, her inability to focus and lose her sense of control in the air might have disastrous effects if she competes and lands in a hazardous manner.
Naomi Osaka, a professional tennis player, took a break from the French Open and Wimbledon last month to focus on her mental health.
Biles and Osaka have shown the world that physical injuries aren’t the primary cornerstone of wellness by prioritizing their mental health.
Taking care of your mental health is just as vital, if not more, than taking care of your physical health.
This movement, according to Joe Galasso, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, and founding partner, and CEO of Baker Street Behavioral Health, is particularly uplifting.
Galasso told Healthline, “One, the bravery on exhibit is profound, and two, the stigma is being removed.”
Getting rid of the stigma associated with mental illness
Mental health has long been associated with a negative stigma in our society.
According to Rebecca Busanich, Ph.D., an associate professor of fitness and sport studies at St. Catherine University, mental health issues have been given a variety of derogatory labels, particularly in top sports.
People with mental illnesses have been mischaracterized as “mad or weak, or too emotional, sensitive, and soft, or missing a particular hardness or will,” according to Busanich.
As a result, many people try to cope in quiet, fearful of opening up about their mental health struggles and seeking help – especially when they need it most.
“We are at a critical juncture in history when people are not just exposing their issues with mental illness, but also sharing treatment pathways and discovering that illnesses like anxiety and depression can be treated,” Galasso said.
Biles and Osaka’s role in changing the narrative
Athletes like Biles and Osaka inspire a lot of young kids.
Biles “is one of the world’s most powerful and courageous athletes, male or female.” Not to mention the odds that have been placed against her throughout her life as a young lady of color who has overcome so many obstacles to get to where she is,” Busanich said.
Experts say Biles has shown that it’s OK to be vulnerable and that it’s OK not to be OK, by prioritizing her mental health.
Biles has demonstrated what it means to confess you’re having trouble, realize what you need, and give yourself the time and space you need to heal.
Biles and Osaka have already raised significant mental health awareness by prioritizing their mental health needs.
“Perhaps this will lead to some critical dinnertime conversations this week around the country, where people finally open up and become candid about their own experiences,” Busanich speculated.
At the very least, Biles and Osaka are assisting in the eradication of the stigma and anxiety associated with discussing mental health difficulties by further normalizing mental health requirements.
“All of the anxieties and stigmas around mental health will fade away as we recognize that each of us, as human beings, has suffered negative mental health at least once in our lives — just as we have all been sick or injured at various points throughout our lives,” Busanich added.
Why their actions are more important than ever before
Biles’ and Osaka’s acts come at a time when the pandemic is causing millions of individuals throughout the world to struggle with mental health at home.
Anxiety and despair have increased dramatically in the last year. Overdose deaths in the United States increased by 30% in 2020 compared to 2019.
“With the pandemic, the importance of mental health and its integration with medical health has been brought to the forefront. Galasso stated, “They are intrinsically intertwined.”
People are human, and they are in a state of flux. Anxiety and melancholy, as well as joy and enthusiasm, are all-natural parts of life.
We need to keep building on the momentum that elite competitors like Biles and Osaka have created, according to Galasso.
“There needs to be a shift in the mental health discourse. I’m hoping that athletes like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka are leading the charge toward the positive change that we so sorely require,” Busanich said