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Simone Biles' Decision to Focus on Mental Health Sheds Light On Athletes' Mental Wellbeing with Jack Singer Updated: 2021-07-30 17:08:30 KST

Olympic champion Simone Biles withdrew from the Women's Team Gymnastic's Final and then the individual event at the Tokyo Olympics to "protect her mind and body."
Tennis star Naomi Osaka also pulled out of Wimbledon this year citing mental health concerns.
These are the latest examples of athletes being increasingly open about mental health issues.
And, it's brought to surface the need to shed light on the mental wellbeing of athletes and that "it's okay not to be okay."
Let's talk about it. I'd like to bring in sports psychologist Dr. Jack Singer for more in-depth discussion.

So Dr. Singer, you've worked with elite athletes and teams for the past 45 years, including 3 Olympic Gold Medal winners. What was your first reaction to the news when Simone Biles pulled out of the games due to mental health reasons?

It's not hard to imagine, but no one will truly understand how these athletes are battling through the immense pressure that they're facing from their country and the global audience during the Olympics. How do athletes take care of their mental well-being before and during these huge events? During huge events like the Olympics, athletes are often accompanied by a sports psychology team, aren't they?

When athletes are physically injured, people are immediately aware of and concerned about the sports stars' well-being. But when they're mentally injured, no one really knows what's going on and may even undervalue the seriousness of the issue. Yet mental health may be even more important than their physical wellbeing. Do you think this is the case? How important do you think mental health is for athletes?

Simone Biles said she was particularly stressed from the Tokyo Olympics. How is the pandemic situation affecting athletes' mental health in the Olympic Games? Do you think competing in an empty arena has had huge impact on their performance?

The world's reaction to Biles' announcement was quite encouraging, as fans and fellow athletes were mostly supportive about Biles' decision. Even a decade ago, that response might have been different - most likely critical. How has the perception about being vulnerable and speaking out about mental health in athletics changed over the years?

Jack Singer, a sports psychologist, on athletes' mental health and well-being for us tonight.
Many thanks for your insights.
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