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MENTAL HEALTH: Athletes face backlash for taking breaks from sport

 

Adam Peaty, Ben Stokes, Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka are amongst those athletes putting their mental health at the forefront of the public eye.

All of the above athletes have taken, or plan to take, some time away from their respective sports in order to give themselves a mental and physical break for their future health.

Some, like Peaty, aim to take a break to prolong their longevity in the sport. Others, like Biles, understood their body needed to step back momentarily.

When Osaka refused to speak to the press at the French Open, she was ridiculed. However, as she described, she needed space with it all getting too much for her.

People can sometimes forget that these athletes may be able to do superhuman things physically - there aren't many people on the planet that can play cricket like Stokes - but mentally, they're just the same as every other person.

They need a break sometimes, just like a single parent who may be struggling to raise their children or the worker who's feeding their family with long shifts.

The fact that these athletes are being so open about their mental health brings pros and cons.

Unfortunately, a minority of people have been vocal in their disgust at the decisions Peaty and co. have made and expect them to continue on regardless.

We've seen prominent public figures like Piers Morgan openly criticise Osaka and Biles for dropping out of tournaments.

However, the fact these athletes have been so open and adamant about protecting their mental health brings benefits for society.

It brings the topic back into the public domain and creates conversation, helping to further get rid of the stigma attached to mental health concerns.

Ultimately, it should open up the idea that it's ok not to be ok and help people understand their feelings without feeling alone.

The more mental health is brought into the national eye, the more we can help to avoid the damage it can cause to people and families.

Hopefully, Peaty, Stokes, Osaka and Biles all enjoy their time off and come back stronger for it - both physically and mentally.


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