Simone Biles: A Record-Breaker Breaking Down Stigma

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — julio 28, 2021 — 3 min de lectura
This week, Simone Biles made history. Not with her triple flips or double-double dismount. Instead, it was her Olympian strength of character.

“We have to protect our minds and our bodies, and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do,” Biles said. She had just withdrawn from the team gymnastics competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

When Biles first withdrew, USA Gymnastics stated that it was because of a “medical issue.” The gymnast soon clarified that she feels good physically. “Emotionally,” she said, “that kind of varies on the time and the moment.”

The public responded: many brushed off her mental health struggles as personal failure. This kind of reaction occurs too often in workplaces, schools, and even among family members.

However, Biles—and Team USA—rightly treated her mental health just as seriously as a broken ankle. And most importantly, the decision got people talking.
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Not Just Competition Jitters

Those who criticized Biles argued that she was setting a bad example. That she was making excuses. That she was only nervous and should’ve pushed through.

But it wasn’t just nerves. Anyone paying attention knows that Americans’ mental health is getting worse. Especially because of pandemic-related isolation. And especially among Black youth.

Biles isn’t the only one struggling, and she knows it. Her honesty was deliberate and brave.

Trauma Plays a Role

The critics also ignored Biles’ complex history. As a child, she was one of 13 million U.S. kids who went to bed hungry. Her biological mother faced substance use challenges. Biles was placed in foster care. And when her grandparents adopted her, she was separated from two of her siblings. Like most children involved with the child welfare system, Biles suffered trauma.

She’s also a survivor of sexual abuse.

Those who minimize her struggles hold outdated views. Overwhelming research shows that traumatic childhood experiences leave lasting scars. For many, healing from trauma can take a lifetime. Just because Biles broke world records doesn’t mean she isn’t hurting.
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A Lesson From Simone Biles to Us All

Biles is arguably the best gymnast in the world. She holds 25 Olympic medals, 19 of which are gold. She’s admired by millions. And she, too, faces mental health challenges.

With the grace of a true champion, Biles crushed mental health stigma like she does her competition. She sparked talk across the world. Whether good or bad, these conversations help raise mental health awareness.

And so, we say once again: Simone Biles made history on Tuesday. She taught us the power of being vulnerable. Even when (if) her records are broken, her impact in the mental health community will persist. And she’ll forever be remembered as the “Greatest of All Time.”

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