The Olympics and Mental Health

By Anita Manley

Who’s watching the Olympics? What an absolute thrill to see so many Canadians winning medals– and I cannot help but mention that 99% of them are women! What incredible heroes– all of the competitors, not just those who arrive on the podium.

Of course, we cannot talk about mental health and the 2021 Olympic games in Tokyo, without mentioning Simone Biles. This 24-year-old gymnast from the U.S. made a brave and courageous decision to not compete in the women’s team final.

Unlike what some trolls are saying, Simone is not “a quitter” or “letting her country down”, she is being honest about her mental health by saying “the mental’s not there”, after losing her spatial awareness in a twist that she’d done thousands of times before.

Simone Biles has proven to be the utmost mental health advocate and is a great role model for other Olympians and aspiring athletes around the world. She knew she was not ready to compete for fear of injury (have you seen what those gymnasts actually do in competition?), so she spoke up and stood on the sidelines (at the Olympics, when she’d been training her whole life for this moment!) cheering on her teammates.

What a hero, and what a champion to advocate for mental wellness on the world stage.

My former sister-in-law, Olympic Silver medalist in figure skating (Calgary 88), Elizabeth Manley says it best in her recent video on Instagram. Follow her @lizmanley88 and check out her video on Simone Biles.

Mental Health is, and should be treated the same as physical health. If Simone had broken an ankle on that twist, we would not have expected her to compete. Why then, do some people feel she should compete when she is not feeling mentally fit?

In other good news, I just heard today that Simone will return to compete in the balance beam final tomorrow. (Update– she won the Bronze medal!) I know that I will be cheering her on, as well as most of the world — save for a few mean-spirited trolls.

Take care of your mental health folks! You are worth it!

Simone Biles is the ultimate mental health advocate at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics!

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