Simone Biles resonates with athletes and mental health professionals

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 8:45 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -One of the most decorated Olympic gymnasts sent shock waves around the world, Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics final, saying it was for mental health reasons. Some call the decision controversial, others call it brave, either way mental health professionals think her decision paints a good picture of how serious mental health can be.

Competitive cheer coach at Rushmore Athletics, Kailey Brannan knows what it’s like to be in her student’s shoes.

“I know as an athlete when we would lose or do badly, I would just drag that on the rest of the day, it would really be bad for my self esteem and bring the whole team down,” Brannan said.

Brannan says her experience has taught her that taking a different approach to competition is important, thus raising the bar on mental health, “with my mini team, some days they walk in and are like ‘I’m tired, I had a bad day at school’ and I have to read them and be like ‘oh okay let’s do a little dance party, let’s make this a fun practice,’ rather than ‘okay we have to get stuff done, we have to get stuff done.’”

Mental health professionals say the pressure for athletes to perform well every time can have consequences on their mental health. Family Pathways Counselor at Behavior Management Systems, Vince Bertsch says a lot can weigh on athlete’s mind in competitive sports, “what I seen, is it’s usually the accumulation of many different stressful events that seem to be collecting together in this horrible storm of stress, pressure and worry.”

Bertsch adds, that pressure is kicked up a notch when competing in games like the Olympics, “am I going to be able to do this, are my expectations up to par with everyone around me, am I going to be able to push myself to that limit, once more, and then some, for the sake of doing it, essentially for the sake of sport.”

Bertsch says he supports Simone Bile’s decision, a decision he says is already resonating in the mental health community.

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