‘Powerful Step Forward’- Michael Phelps Urges Other Athletes to Address Mental Health Like Simone Biles

Published 11/12/2021, 9:30 AM EST
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 06: Former Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps speaks during a Panasonic press event for CES 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 6, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs January 7-10 and features about 4,500 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 170,000 attendees. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)


When Simone Biles opened up on her mental health struggles during the Tokyo Olympics, the world took notice. Fans expected the GOAT of gymnastics to win many medals, as she did in Rio. However, citing mental health concerns, she withdrew from the events. Now, swimming legend Michael Phelps opened up on issues related to mental health struggles and how he was happy to see Biles speak about the same.

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Michael Phelps salutes Simone Biles

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The legendary swimmer spoke to PEOPLE and expressed his emotions on Biles’ situation and how she helped to take that stigma away.

“As somebody who’s struggled with depression and anxiety, opening up and talking about mental health is a big, powerful step forward toward blowing the stigma out of the water. It’s more powerful than we can imagine.”

“When you watch the Olympics and you see somebody like Simone Biles go through what she went through, I think it probably took a lot of people by surprise,” said Phelps.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Team – Final – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States during the Women’s Team Final REUTERS/Mike Blake
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Phelps’ own struggles

Phelps had his share of problems in the past. Many athletes face the pressures and expectations of fans from their respective countries. Undoubtedly, performing at the biggest stage in the world of sports is not easy and it comes with its own set of challenges. Phelps experienced the same first hand.

“Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression,” he said.

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Having recovered from the same, Phelps now plays his part in helping others in their recovery journey through ‘The Michael Phelps Foundation.’

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 21: Nicole Phelps, Michael Phelps and Boomer Phelps attend the Huggies Little Swimmers #trainingfor2032 Swim Class With The Phelps Foundation on August 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Huggies)

“It’s bigger than anything I ever have done in the pool. Being able to have the opportunity to help somebody and potentially save their life, is absolutely everything because I know what that feels like to not want to be alive. I wouldn’t be able to sit here and have three amazing kids and a beautiful family and, you know, a dream come true,” said Phelps.

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Not just for their talent and skills but for the personalities they pose, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles are truly an inspiration for many generations to come.

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Jacob Gijy

616 articles

Jacob Gijy is a US Sports and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the center the respect he deserves.

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