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Mental health: the highest peak to climb, not only for athletes.

2021 Mental Health Day

“Faster, Higher, Stronger,” prayed the original Olympic motto.

How to deconstruct the invulnerability of athletes?

2021 Mental Health Day is particularly relevant. 

During the last few months, we have heard a lot of talk about mental health, especially in the context of the global pandemic. There has also increased awareness in the sports community as world-famous athletes have spoken out.

‘It’s O.K. Not to Be O.K.’ Tennis star Naomi Osaka created a strong precedent when she decided to step back from participating in press conferences and competing in tournaments to preserve her mental health earliest this year.

She is neither the first nor the only one, but the more voices unite, the stronger the message. Representatives such as Osaka, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and the gymnast Simone Biles are helping to break down the stigma that seems to overshadow mental health issues. 

Inevitably, elite athletes seek to reach their maximum physical potential in order to perform at their best. But finding the right mental balance is essential to avoid breaking down along the way. 

Mental and physical health are intrinsically connected. Therefore, it is necessary to work on both to obtain the best performance. But how to do it?

Experts seem to agree: Talk about it. With awareness comes the possibility of change. 

Watching an Olympic athlete putting mental health first at the games gives others permission to ask for help and normalizes mental health as part of the conversation.

Nowadays, more and more athletes and coaches are taking steps to improve their performance on this issue. And this is also spreading to the business world. Therefore, the more normalization, the easier it will be to talk about problems, and consequently, the more efficiently they can be solved. 

The Olympic Committee has tools and resources on its website to assist Olympic Movement stakeholders in developing and implementing initiatives related to the protection and promotion of mental health and well-being in elite athletes. 

Also, Athlete365 has set up a 24h phone number to assist athletes. “The Mentally Fit Helpline is a free and confidential mental health and well-being support service available to all Olympians and Paralympians at Games-time.”

Taking care of the mental health of the athletes is the only way to keep them “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” but most importantly, we can do this “together.” Since the current IOC motto was modified last July 2021, adding this extra word to highlight the importance of unity and solidarity.

The Olympic movement and the athletes are good role models where young people and society, in general, can see themselves reflected. However, mental health is not just for elite athletes; it is for everyone. 

Let’s go “Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together” in our mental health journey. 

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