USA Today has published a fascinating article about how top athletes are battling mental illness and also using their platform to de-stigmatize it.
There are a number of deeply moving stories which can only help build understanding and sympathy at the expense of ignorance and cruelty.
Roughly 44 million Americans experienced some form of mental illness in 2015, according to estimates by the National Institute of Mental Health. That’s nearly one in five people aged 18 or over. But athletes may be at increased risk because injuries, competitive failure and overtraining can lead to psychological distress.
An NCAA survey of athletes found over the course of a year that 30% reported feeling depressed while half said they experienced high levels of anxiety.
Each athlete found help in a number of different places, but if there’s one common theme it’s the importance of honesty and transparency, of opening up and talking about it.
My favorite quote is from tennis player Mardy Fish: “It’s OK not to be OK,” he says. “To show weakness, we’re told in sports, is to deserve shame. But showing weakness, addressing your mental health, is strength.”