Mental health in sports: Players who admitted about mental health issues

As Naomi Osaka left French Open for mental health issues, we look at athletes who publicly admitted the mental health issues in sports.

Koushik Biswas
New Update
Mental health in sports: Players  who admitted about mental health issues

Sports is said to be a great mixture of physical and mental strength. However, the emphasis on physical health is much greater than mental health. Actually, it was almost negligible till some athletes and players started acknowledging it. Nowadays, mental health in sports is a major factor as players come out of their shell and admit their mental health issues. Today, we will discuss those players who admitted their mental health issues and given importance on mental health in sports.

Players who admitted about mental health issues

Nearly 1 out of 5 people face mental health issues. Meanwhile, 35% of elite athletes suffer from mental health issues. However, only a few of them seeks help.

#1 Micheal Phelps

Phelps is the epitome of success and glory. There is no one in the world who has won more Olympic medals than him. The glorified swimmer always seen happy and smiling big in the Olympics. However, for a tough man like him, he went through many downs as the faced depression and mental health issues.

After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he was caught in picture while having marijuana and was arrested as well. This incident lead to big controversy and impact on his life. In 2014, he was also banned from competing for six months.

Image- Rolling Stone

This lead to anxiety and depression. But, being the fighter he is, he acknowledged the issue and sought for help. He went for a therapy in Arizona in 2014 and then made a huge comeback in 2016 Rio Olympics. We all know what happened after that, he became the most decorated Olympian with 29 medals including 23 gold medals.

"I struggled with anxiety and depression and questioned whether or not I wanted to be alive anymore. It was when I hit this low that I decided to reach out and ask for the help of a licensed therapist. This decision ultimately helped save my life. You don't have to wait for things."– Phelps on mental health and overcoming it.

Read Also: 15 Iconic Photos in Olympic History

#2 Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey is as tough as one can be. He even can fight professional male fighters and beta them in strength. This is how strong she is. However, the first-ever female UFC MMA professional had her issues with failures and depression as well.

Image- The Mercury

After losing her UFC title against Holly Holm she went through depression. Perhaps, Rousey did not sigh away from that fact and acknowledged that mental health in sports is a major issue as well.

She also admitted that, she thought of committing suicides post that lost. But she came back like a champion.

It's not a weakness we should condemn. I've never shied away from talking about suicide or anything like that. It's really heavily affected family, and anything that I could do to make sure it affects as few people as possible; I'd be happy to do that. I do not see why it's looked at as a bad thing.– Rousey in an interview with Huffpost.

Read Also: Women In Sports: Female Firsts In Every Sport

#3 Imani Boyette

Imagine if you get raped by your own family members, how tough it can be to endure. From childhood, she tired to kill herself thrice. Even she wanted to kill herself when she was only 10.

But, the professional Basketball player did not gave up. He went through the period and sought help. And, now we can say, she has made it in her life.

Boyette now raises mental health awareness and gives supports to the children who are in need. She now a spokesperson  Sparks of Hope.

#4 Virat Kohli

The current Indian Cricket Team's captain is probably the best player of his generation. His aggression on the field and hunger to win has always drawn attention. However, Virat also had failures in his career and thought "it felt like the end of the world".

Image Crredit- NDTV

As, Virat was asked about mental health in sports, he told about his earlier phases of his career. After his huge failure in 2014 in England, Virat thought this might end his career and was in depression. But, as like champions of any sport, he came back like a king and let his bat do the talking.

"You know when you get to the international stage, every player that's in the squad needs that communication – that ability to speak out. What Glenn has done is remarkable. I have gone through a phase in my career where I had felt that it was the end of the world. I just didn't know what to do and what to say to anyone, How to speak, how to communicate," Virat on the mental health issue.

Even the Indian captain thinks that every team should have a mental health specialist in their team stuff group.

Read Also: Top 5 Most runs at Number 3 in ODIs: Kohli Crosses 10000 runs at number 3

#5 Serena Williams

The ultimate queen of open era tennis, Serena Williams have also been a victim of depression and mental health issue. It is quite hard to get even a champion player like her with so less failures can get depression as well.

After winning the Wimbledon in 2011 Serena went through a rough patch in her career. She was suffering from injuries and many health issues. This also made her away from the game. With the habit of wining it every time, she could not handle the tough time.

"I cried all the time. I was miserable to be around," via Telegraph.

After the birth of her daughter, Olympia in 2017 Serena opened about her fight with depression and mental health in sports in postpartum disorder.

Read Also: Most matches in Tennis history (male & female): Tennis Records

#6 Marcus Trescothick

The England Cricket team's opener was having a great time at the top of the order for the team. Perhaps, he was the most successful batsman in the team at that time. But something happened and he retired from the game quite early in his career.

Image- Outlook India

Trescothick retired in 2006 at his peak, because of his mental health issues. He always suffered from being away from home and his family. He went back to England from an ongoing series in India as he could not cope up with the depression.

While talking to Men's Health Trescothick said,

I'd always suffered with being away from home. I remember sitting with the team psychologist before the tour, telling him I didn't want to go away. Things escalated really quickly when we got out there. I was cooped up in bed for the best part of a week and it got progressively worse to the point where I thought "I've got to get out of here and sort out what's happening to me.

Marcus Trescothick on his mental health issues.

Even the great Brian Lara has admitted that, "mental health is real and part of all sport".

#7 Naomi Osaka

The most recent on the list of athletes who openly accepted their mental health issue is Naomi Osaka. The number 2 ranked women's tennis player in the world is the richest female athlete in the world.

Read Also: Top10 highest-paid female athletes of 2020-21

However, with all that money and success Naomi could not get away from anxiety and depression. In the ongoing French Open tournament, she was fined $15000 for opting out of any press-conference as the media does not care about mental health of any player.

Image- The Guardian

However, as the tournament committee responded with some major future suspensions, Naomi took her name from the French Open 2021.

She said, "I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly."

Everyone around the globe appreciated Naomi for acknowledging the mental health issue.

Other than these athletes, there are many players who had mental health issues and acknowledged that publicly. Glenn Maxwell, Andrew Flintoff, Amanda Beard, Justin Duchscherer and Allison Schmitt also were affected by mental health issues and recovered from that with great courage.

What Kind Of Support Is There?

Sports psychology is a relatively new field that has only begun to be widely recognized and utilized in the last few decades. Still, there has been a significant amount of research conducted in this area, particularly concerning the mental health of athletes. This research has shown that mental health problems are common among athletes at all levels of competition, from amateur to professional.

Mental health problems can profoundly impact an athlete's performance, both on and off the field of play. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse are just some of the mental health issues that can adversely affect an athlete's ability to compete.

Fortunately, there is help available for athletes struggling with mental health problems. Therapists, counsellors, psychologists, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP), who have completed a psychiatric program or degree can help athletes find ways to cope with their issues and reduce the negative impact on their lives.

Athletes and others struggling with mental health problems should reach out for help as soon as possible!

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Virat Kohli Naomi Osaka Mental Health Is Sports Mental Health Micheal Phelps Ronda Rousey