Importance of mental health in spotlight at Olympic Games

Tokyo Olympics Artistic Gymnastics
Posted at 9:20 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 23:26:24-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Many around the world got a reminder of the extreme pressures of competition at the highest level as Olympian Simone Biles pulled out of the Gymnastics team final to focus on her mental health.

Mid-state therapists are hoping the example Biles led with will encourage people all around the world to do the same.

Just one day before Biles dropped out of the gymnastics team finals to focus on her mental health, she posted to Instagram, "I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders."

Rikki Harris with the nonprofit TN Voices says while we aren't all Olympic athletes, we all can identify with her sentiment.

"I talk to people about this often," Harris said. "Our society places so much priority on success - you could call that winning - that we sometimes will burn at both ends until there's no wax left."

Harris' group works to help people focus on their mental health.

She says for someone to be able to prioritize that on the world's highest stage is a really big deal.

"It's not about winning if I'm not OK, and taking care of that is better than me winning this thing just because everyone else wants me to win," Harris said.

She says in a society that often prizes success above all else, more people should take the time to think about what that's doing to their feelings and thoughts.

"That's knowing your needs, understanding how to set boundaries, protecting yourself in terms of time, your physical health, mental health," Harris said.

But Harris says that takes active effort - something too many people don't spend time doing.

"I think sometimes we're expected to just go all the time and move forward and be successful, that until we're at a situation where we literally can't take another step, we just neglect our mental health," Harris said.