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“Sign of Weakness”- Michael Phelps Opens Up on the Heartbreaking Stigma Around Male Athletes’ Mental Health

Published 05/18/2022, 8:00 AM EDT

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Widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Phelps is the ultimate idol of many. He didn’t just wake up one day with the weight of 28 medals on his chest. It took years of hard work and dedication for him to get there. To win eight gold medals in a single Olympics season is something nobody can even dream of, but Phelps made it a reality.

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With all these achievements and victories comes pressure to be the best and continue winning. And this pressure can affect one’s mental health. Phelps is no stranger to it.


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Michael Phelps talks about the male athletes and their mental health stigma 

Phelps has worked extensively to promote mental health awareness and break the taboo surrounding it. He served as an executive producer of the HBO documentary: ‘The Weight of Gold.’ The series features Olympians talking about the mental health challenges they faced in their career.

Today, the American swimmer is a strong advocate for therapy, and he credits it with saving his life. As a male athlete, he has been trying to break a unique stigma in the sports world. During a recent interview, Phelps opened up about how therapy has helped him overcome his mental barriers.


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“I can speak from an athlete perspective of being a male and an athlete. If I was to speak up during my career, I would feel like it would be a sign of weakness and we’re giving our competitors that edge,” said Phelps. “And in sports or basically kind of in battle, it’s like you can’t give your competitors that edge,” he added.

While Phelps relies on self-care, exercise, and therapy, he continues to learn new ways of coping with what he is going through. He does so because he thinks whatever is working for him on one day might not work on another.

Phelps’ family is his support system

Living with mental health issues like anxiety and depression can be very taxing. It means Phelps can have both good and bad days. But his family supports him through thick and thin no matter what.


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His wife, Nicole Phelps, plays the marquee role in helping him through tough times. She has helped Phelps for the last 15 years and has created a welcoming atmosphere around the house. Although their sons are still very young, they are still aware of their father’s issues.

Nicole has also been helping Michael work through his childhood issues and feelings of abandonment.


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While his issues might not go away altogether, it is still good to see the legend coping with them well and also helping others work through their issues.

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Written by:

Naman Gopal Srivastava


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Naman Gopal is a US Sports Writer at EssentiallySports. Naman is an Undergraduate in Journalism and Mass Communication, with a minor’s degree in Cinematography from the Maharashtra Institute of Technology. An ardent fan of basketball and soccer, Naman was once a national level soccer player himself.
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Edited by:

Simar Singh Wadhwa