We Are Humans First.
In today’s world, we are witnessing a mental health crisis in full effect.
Far too many have suffered in silence for fear of the shame and judgement surrounding this issue. Teen suicide alone increased 250% in October 2020 from the previous October, and nearly 26 million American are experiencing mental illness and going untreated. In many aspects of life, vulnerability is still labeled as a weakness, and needing help seen as an Achilles heel. And as we have seen in recent years, and most notably perhaps this year, athletes have not been immune to this crisis.
Watching the judgement and shame surrounding the actions of the likes of Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and Naomi Osaka...if you are like us...brings a physical wrenching reaction. It’s extremely hard to stand by and witness people cast such judgment on these athletes when all they are saying is, “I’m out of balance, I am not well, I may need help, and I need to take time for self-care”. After all they have put in... after all the work…how can we possibly be upset with that? How can anyone possibly feel as though a title, a medal, notoriety, national pride, etc. supersedes well-being? Where is the empathy and compassion for our fellow human?
Can you remember an experience in your own personal life, on an occasion where you were under extreme pressure to push yourself past the point of what’s best for your personal well-being for the sake of a business deal, or presentation, etc.? These experiences can be excruciating mentally and physically and place our bodies into a state of dis-ease, and it is not acceptable. At no time in our human journeys, should the athlete, the teacher, the salesperson, the welder, the CEO, come before the human. We are humans first.
Now more than ever, mental health must be prioritized, and the conversation surrounding it normalized. We need open and honest discussion about it at the dinner table and we need open and honest discussion in the locker room. It needs to be openly discussed in the office, and it needs to be openly discussed on that car ride home. Vulnerability should be seen as courage, and putting one’s wellbeing first, as the new cool. We need to LISTEN to our bodies when its telling us it's too much and we need to LISTEN to others when they are doing the same. This is how we begin to reverse this crisis and move towards a more balanced and healthy world that we are leaving to our children.
Our hats go off to these athletes who are taking a stand and using their platform to bring awareness and change to this very real and prevalent issue we are all touched by. Let's all commit to putting our well-being first, support and empathize with those doing the same, and be the change in humanity we wish to see.
We are ALL humans first.
"We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we're human, too," said Simone Biles.
Written by Amanda Brown, a Conscious Ink staffer who was a Division I tennis player, playing the sport for over 25 years.