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Mental Health

World Mental Health Day: Why we should thank Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka

Surely, we cannot thank Biles and Osaka enough for their tough stance and for putting their careers at stake to make the world realise the importance of mental well being.

Mental Health Day Naomi Osaka Simone Biles

Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka


Abhijit Nair

Published: 10 Oct 2021 12:30 PM GMT

Mental Health has always been one of the most overlooked aspects of human life over the years. While everyone talks about the need to stay physically fit in order to live a long healthy life, no one really talks about the need to be fit mentally.

However, that has been changing of late. People have started to acknowledge the need to have sound mental health in order to lead a healthy and successful life.

While the change in perception regarding mental health will quite certainly not come overnight, the seeds for the same have started to be sown. The fact that well-known personalities and celebrities have stressed the need to have mental peace has only given much-needed impetus to this movement.

Two people in the world of sports who have led this cause from the front are the American gymnast Simone Biles and the Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka.

Imagine representing your country on a stage as big as the Olympics and being considered as one of the biggest medal hopes and as the greatest athlete to have ever graced the sport. Then imagine taking the decision to drop out mid-way during an Olympic competition because you do not feel right mentally. Insane, right?

This is exactly what Simone Biles did during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The expectations from the 24-year-old in Tokyo were insane. There were talks of her being the greatest gymnast of all time and people expected her to return from Tokyo with a total of six gold medals – one each in all the six events she was competing in.

All of this took a toll on Simone Biles and she took a brave decision of pulling out of the team finals citing mental health reasons. The Ohio girl did face immense criticisms from various quarters for her act, but she stood her ground and set an example.

It was huge. No other athlete had taken such an unprecedented step before. But, Simone Biles made a statement.

A statement that nothing else matters more than one's own mental health. Everything else is secondary. No matter who you are, no matter what is at stake.

While Simone Biles' stance during the Tokyo Olympics was something remarkable, the foundation for it was laid by Naomi Osaka a couple of months prior.

The 23-year-old tennis star decided to withdraw from post-match press conferences at the prestigious Roland Garros or French Open, citing mental health reasons.

This quite certainly did not go well with the tournament organisers, who in turn threatened her with a fine eventually leading to the world's highest-paid female athlete pulling out of the tournament.

Naomi Osaka then opened up about how she has been battling with 'bouts of depression' ever since her first Grand Slam victory at the US Open in 2018 and announced that she will step away from the sport for some time.

These acts by Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka – two of the most famous female athletes across the globe, led to something outstanding. Not only did the sporting fraternity started taking mental health seriously, but a lot of others too did.

Surely, we cannot thank Biles and Osaka enough for their tough stance and for putting their careers at stake to make the world realise the importance of mental well being.

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