The message Simone Biles is sending on caring for mental health
Gymnast Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast, stepped down from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics, a decision that helped shine a spotlight on the importance of caring for mental health as much as physical.
Dr. Munther Barakat, director of behavioral health therapy at Advocate Aurora Health, says Biles’ decision sends an important message on taking care of mental health.
“We still have a lot of work to do in this area, but her speaking up and really putting a message out there for us to see that mental health is something we need to pay attention to and it’s not something you can just push through, it sends a good message,” he said.
With physical injuries you can see an ankle or ligament injury, but with mental health, you can’t always see what is going on, so it is important to pay attention to symptoms, he said.
“If we sprain our ankle, we stop, we pay attention to it, we attend to it until it heals. We need to think about our mental health being the same way,” Barakat said.
There are proactive steps we can take to help with our mental health, Barakat said. That includes things we tend to do for our physical health, like a healthy diet.
“We think about the things we do for our physical wellbeing. We need to do the same thing for mental health as well,” he said.
He said athletes speaking out can help with the stigma of caring for mental health.
“With our mental health, sometimes it can take a day, it can take a week, it can take longer, but we need to take time and take care of ourselves.”
About the Author
Brittany Lewis is a media relations coordinator at Advocate Aurora Health. She previously worked as a reporter at TV stations around the Midwest, including Milwaukee. She studied at DePaul University where she majored in Journalism and Public Relations. Brittany enjoys traveling, hanging out by Lake Michigan, trying new restaurants and spending time with friends and family.