Simone Biles: Putting Mental Health First

By Caralee Frederic

Mental Health

The Olympic Games are a display of the best athletes in the world competing while the media and spectators debate who is the “greatest of all time.” Athletes are elevated to heroic status for a moment — until they fall;  as all humans do, eventually.  This year, the GOAT of life is Simone Biles — and the other women — who have modeled to the world what it means to have healthy priorities above all else.

In her words: “We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”

That takes courage! Huzzah! to Simone who recognized that she needed to take care of her mental health above performance and went against the pressure of society and do what’s best for herself.

But it wasn’t only a decision focused on self. Hurrah! to Simone for having the humility and strength to step down in support of her teammates’ success, knowing she wasn’t at her best. 

Nobody gets to the “top” without having the right people around them and clearly, Simone does, as she herself acknowledged.  “That’s why we have teammates, because if somebody’s feeling down, you have to step up. And they did just that. So kudos to them… I had the correct people around me to do that,” she said at a news conference following her announcement that she would withdraw from the individual all-around competition. 

Simone is quoted as saying, “I’m going to go out there and represent the USA, represent World Champions Centre and represent Black and brown girls (all) over the world.” 

Simone, you did just that, and then some, in your decisions displayed for the world to see. Self-care is healthy and right. Putting your team before your own ego/goals/aspirations is healthy and admirable. Going against society’s demands is courageous!  You’ve exceeded our expectations by showing us that behind the performance is a real person who deserves compassionate care. In this, there is no shame!

I hope Simone will be seen forever as an amazing role model to all women and men of the very best humanity offers when we have our priorities in order, our character formed around healthy values, and the support of the “right people” around us.  

To anyone struggling with any challenge — physical, emotional, mental, relational — watch Simone. Put your mental and emotional health first. Take compassionate care of yourself! Consider how your decisions and actions impact your “team.” Surround yourself with “the right people.”

Have the courage to buck the messages of society that your worth is only in what you do/produce/perform. Follow Simone Biles into a life worth living, where worth is inherently yours and knowing that, you can make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones.

Simone, we still love you!!