As someone who didn’t always put their mental health first, having people like Simone speak up about this makes a world of difference.
Simone Biles, a gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast, left the women’s gymnastics final at the 2020 Tokyo Games. Her team cited a ‘medical injury’ before in a press conference indicating that it was over a mental health issue. However, Team USA would still go on to win silver in the final.
When I was a kid growing up on the autism spectrum, I saw a therapist for a short time due to my challenging behaviors. Being bullied in school, I would avoid mentioning this as getting help and seeking good mental health was often labeled as being ‘crazy’ and ‘weird.’ Some of my mental health challenges were because I didn’t speak in complete sentences till I was 7. I would feel a wide range of motions for not being able to communicate my needs. As an adult, I have a job as a public speaker and speak openly about mental health.
The best thing I could ever do to help with these issues was to put my mental health first and not be afraid to talk about it.
Being a big NBA fan, I applauded basketball player Kevin Love for addressing his mental health issues. In addition, superstar tennis player Naomi Osaka earlier in 2021 indicated mental health issues before leaving a tournament. While I admire all of their bravery, in Simone Biles’s scenario, she prioritized her mental health over a gold medal in the final of an Olympics, which very well could be one of her last, putting her mental health first was incredible.
The fact is, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
Simone, I appreciate you speaking up at this moment. I hope you will inspire more people who struggle with their mental health not to be afraid to make it a priority. As a society, let’s have more significant conversations about this crucial topic.
Photograph by Ashley Landis / AP Press
My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum that started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help support me so I can continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.