Simone Biles Prioritizes Mental Health: Even Our "Superhuman Beings" (Athletes) Aren't Invincible to Mental Health Issues by Reena Patel

2 years ago

Simone Biles Prioritizes Mental Health: Even Our "Superhuman Beings" (Athletes) Aren't Invincible to Mental Health Issues

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that "mental health is an integral and essential component of health." According to the WHO constitution, health is defined as "a complete state of physical, emotional and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

Our society perceives athletes as "superhuman beings” with invincibility. As we watch the Tokyo Olympics, with Simone Biles being the latest athlete to step away from her games due to mental health challenges, we realize that we are all human and can struggle with the same health issues as even these “superhuman beings.” Just that phrase alone makes it hard to believe an athlete can struggle with mental health, especially because they are trained to be so focused mentally and “in the zone” whilst training.

Yes, they have had mental health struggles before, but now athletes feel a sense of advocacy and are using their voice to spread awareness. Here are some factors we should be aware of:

1. Stressors 

Stressors can impact athletic performance and influence training focus, career transitions, interpersonal relationships and physical recovery.

2. Causes of Mental Health Issues

  • overtraining
  • fear of failure
  • performance expectations
  • social media negativity
  • being away from home
  • predisposition to health issues
  • limited social relationships
  • organization expectations and the ability to compete

3. Mental Health Stigma

Why not ask for help and share? Due to stigma, many athletes feel pressured to be perfect and not show weakness. There is also the fear of being sidelined during competitions. In the culture of sports, there is a perception to be invincible as well as strong physically and mentally.

What Can We Do?

  • Educate and normalize – destigmatize.
  • Athletes should have access to a sport psychologist or professionals, just as employers offer HR or support, so should coaches.
  • Create a healthy and more sustainable environment where athletes feel comfortable and are able to ask for help, without the fear of negative consequences for their career.
  • Reinforce those who share and reach out for support. 

Photo: Simone Biles' Facebook

The content on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

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This is great. We need to support Simone and all those with mental health issues when they say they just can’t.
Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds
Very well said, Reena Patel . As we learn more from Simone Biles about her experience with the "twisties" while in midair during her vault, it is amazing that she landed safely. It is so understandable, and commendable, why she needed to withdraw from competition. We all need to listen to our inner voices more often and learn to care for ourselves better. Grateful to Simone for showing us what that can look like, even at the Olympic level. Welcome to 30Seconds, and we look forward to learning more from you!

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