‘Courageous’ Simone Biles eases stigma for all, say local mental health experts

Bozz District

In stepping away from Olympics competition this week, U.S. gymnast Simone Biles joined a generational tide of younger people showing a pandemic-weary world that mental well-being must be a priority for everyone, local counselors said. “What she has done is one of the more courageous acts anyone can do,” said […]

In stepping away from Olympics competition this week, U.S. gymnast Simone Biles joined a generational tide of younger people showing a pandemic-weary world that mental well-being must be a priority for everyone, local counselors said.

“What she has done is one of the more courageous acts anyone can do,” said Chris Tuell, clinical director of addiction services at the Lindner Center for Hope in Mason. “It’s such an awesome example for other people, kids, people of color, women, and everyday people.”

“The biggest lesson from this is that it’s OK to say enough is enough. It’s OK to prioritize your own emotional health and mental well-being over other things,” said Dr. Courtney Cinko, a psychiatrist for children and teenagers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Heralded at 24 as “the greatest of all time” in gymnastics, Biles already holds five Olympic medals and brought great promise into the Tokyo games. Only weeks ago, she performed moves unheard of in her sport. A goat emoji was created in her honor (Greatest of All Time).

The Summer Games, delayed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, are underway without crowds in the stands and limited team support in venues. Last week, Biles struggled to qualify, and this week, she under rotated on a vault, then withdrew from the team contest and Thursday’s meet for the all-around medal. She is day to day for the four apparatus competitions.

Chris Tuell, clinical director of addiction services at the Lindner Center for Hope in Mason, said Olympian Simone Biles performed with courage when she stepped back from the competition this week for mental health reasons.

She told reporters her body is not hurt, but her mind resisted her efforts to grasp the critical focus for her gravity-defying performances, where misjudgment can mean career-ending, possibly crippling injury.

Other young well-knowns have spoken this year about the psychological hazards of life powered by high expectations. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, tennis star Naomi Osaka and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have publicly described the harm from the crushing pressure to perform.

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