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“It’s OK to Be Not OK”
Simone Biles, Olympic gymnast, is the most recent example of an athlete withdrawing from competition “due to stress and the pressure to succeed.” Biles follows tennis player Naomi Osaka, who in May withdrew from the French Open and later withdrew from Wimbledon, all in an effort to combat the anxiety and depression with which she has struggled for several years. Some other notable athletes who have spoken out about their own battles with psychological disorders include tennis player Serena Williams, football player Brandon Marshall, basketball player Kevin Love, and swimmer Michael Phelps, who recently remarked, “It’s OK not to be OK.”
The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)’s President, Dr. David Tolin, emphasized the importance of taking psychological disorders seriously: “We need to think of psychological disorders in the same way we think of physical illnesses—not as weaknesses or failures of character, but as real health conditions that have real consequences.”
“Athletes like Simone Biles should be congratulated for speaking out about their health struggles,” said Tolin. “They deserve compassion and care, just like everyone else.” He quoted Biles: “At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me.”
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based form of counseling that has been proven to be effective in combatting a range of psychological disorders. “CBT helps people learn healthier ways of coping with stressful situations, and to become aware of — and then change — the way they think in critical situations,” said Tolin. “There is a wealth of scientific evidence showing that CBT not only reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression, but also helps improve people’s quality of life.”