As the world watched, the greatest of all time gymnast, Simone Biles, stepped down from 2021 Olympic team competition. The media was almost rabid, asking what could have possibly motivated her to make such a decision. Was she physically injured? No, she was just struggling with her mental health and felt it was the right choice for the team to step down at this time.
All of a sudden, social media was abuzz. Was this a healthy choice? Was she a pansy who was just giving up? Was she looking out for herself? Was this good self-care? All of a sudden, everyone had an opinion to share.
Regardless of everyone’s personal opinion, one must admit that this action brought mental health into the forefront of the conversation. As a therapist, it has been fascinating to watch the conversation and the different viewpoints that everyone has brought in.
In my personal opinion, Simone made a brave move as it is a struggle to ask for mental health help. When one gets physically injured, proper care is given almost immediately, depending on the severity of the injury. Very few people are embarrassed when they have to get stitches. In fact, I know quite a few people who brag about their “battle scars” from various odd incidents.
Yet when it comes to our mental health, there is a stigma that seems to block us from getting the help that is so essential, even if it is desperately needed. Time and time again, personal friends and clients alike have confided in me their struggles for asking for help or signing up for therapy. Even people who are advocates for mental health struggle to admit when they need help themselves.
The world would look so much different if all people sought out help when they need it instead of hiding in the shadows of stigma and embarrassment. People would react differently, relationships would be restored, healthy communication would be opened up, stigmas would be addressed…. but unfortunately we do not live in this world.
So bravo to Simone Biles for asking for help when she needed it. And if you need help today, please realize there is no shame in getting help when needed. Please reach out and ask for what you need, it will be well worth your time.