USOPC focusing on mental health ahead of Paris 2024

NEW YORK (KNWA/KFTA) — The topic of mental health is one of the biggest conversations surrounding athletes across all disciplines, making sure they are surrounded with the best resources available has become a priority for Olympic officials.

As the athletes focus on their upcoming performances in Paris this summer, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee is focusing on mental health support.

“Mental health is a huge deal for us and and I feel really good about the advancements we’ve made in sports medicine,” USOPC Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Finnoff said.

Simone Biles made headlines during the games in Tokyo after she withdrew from the competition. The national spotlight helped open the doors for other athletes like Nevin Harrison and Jalen Roberts to feel comfortable sharing their stories.

“I know all of you guys can relate to the post-Olympic blues and the way that feels, but I had a really, really hard year or two afterwards, just kind of feeling really lost. And I think a lot of us can understand where that comes from as who am I outside of sport,” Olympian Nevin Harrison said.

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“After conversation with my coach and my mom and just like sitting with myself, I decided to self-admit to a psychiatric hospital. I was there for three days. They gave me a proper new diagnosis of bipolar disorder,” Paralympian Jaleen Roberts said.

Perry Baker is a former football player and a current member of the USA Rugby team.

“I was having these doubts before surgery, after surgery, and also crazy was like what all these thoughts and these visits that I was seeing like, oh man, what if I get my late touched on again? And then one of the therapists is like, you should speak to a sports psychologist,” Baker said.

Their stories don’t just resonate with each other, but all of us.

“We put ourselves kind of on this pedestal because of how other people view us, that we have to be the superheroes that deal with everything on our own. And we can’t just have a bad day because we’re doing this incredible thing. But that’s not true,” Roberts said.

In addition to year-round support, the USOPC has created groups of athletes based on interest topics and backgrounds to build a community that they can lean on.

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