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UAGC Staff Member

Naomi Osaka, Ronda Rousey, DeMar DeRozan, Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams.
All of their names are familiar to avid sports fans! Outside of representing the elite in their respective sports, what else do all professional athletes have in common? The answer is Mental Health.

Japanese Tennis Player Naomi Osaka suffered from anxiety when speaking to the press. American
Professional Wrestler Ronda Rousey felt that she was worthless after losing her UFC championship belt. DeMar DeRozan, while at the top of his game on the NBA courts, suffered from depression and anxiety that could be linked to the difficult upbringing that he faced involving alcohol and drugs. This spilled over into his personal life where we would become standoffish and separate himself from others to cope with his mental health concerns.

Taking it even further, Olympic Gymnast Simone Bile withdrew from team finals in the 2020 Tokyo due to a condition known as Twisties. Twisties are hard to spot and occur when an individual has no awareness of their surroundings, as if they are no longer in control. It is best described as feeling like an out-of-body experience in a way. Biles suffered from Twisties when she began her last routine. She ran with the intent to perform two and a half twists in the air. After launching off the vault, she lost her bearings while airborne, only completing one and a half twists.

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps struggled with mental health issues that included depression and
substance abuse. In 2014, Phelps pleaded guilty to a second DUI charge and was suffering from suicidal thoughts. Phelps placed himself in a rehabilitation center. He went on to become a spokesperson for the therapy app TalkSpace, an online and mobile therapy company giving users access to licensed therapists through their website or mobile app. Phelps has been vocal about how exercise has also played a vital role in managing his mental health.

American Tennis Player Serena Williams has suffered postpartum depression and dealt with feelings of being a poor mother, and not doing enough for her daughter Olympia. Williams has
spoken about how the support of her mother, sister and close friends has helped her greatly.

The role of technology and social media on mental health 
Technology has grown and expanded at an alarming rate since the release of smartphones. Along with this, there has been an increase in the concern for the mental health of children and young adults. The
suicide rate between young people aged 10-24 years old was stable from 2000-2007. This increased 57% between 2007, and 2017.

Social media and technology play a major role in mental health. This can be positive or negative. People are able to stay connected with family and friends more than they ever could, but it can create a major increase in screen time, affecting mental and physical health. 

It is important to be mindful of how much time is being spent in front of a screen and to take a breaks to focus on activities and hobbies that will keep your health in check. Find activities that are stimulating and have an overall positive impact. Don't be afraid to reach out when you feel that you need help or someone to talk to. 

If you or someone you know needs help now, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or dial 988 and a professional counselor is available to speak 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also text “HOME" to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor.

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