“One in four people have a mental health problem and they don’t talk about it,” Michael Phelps talks about the importance of mental health

The ex-American swimmer Michael Phelps relived the most trying times in his career, talked about his depression, and urged sportsmen to share their stories.


“One in four people have a mental health problem and they don’t talk about it,” Michael Phelps talks about the importance of mental health

Michael Phelps (via Swimming)

Michael Phelps, the illustrious swimmer with a record-breaking tally of 28 Olympic medals, including 23 golds, was featured as a highlight at the World Business Forum. The American sports icon shared an emotional moment with Teresa Perales during the event. The event unfolded on Wednesday at Madrid’s IFEMA convention center, with MARCA in attendance.

During his appearance, Phelps captivated the attendees with his insights into the significance of psychological well-being. He gave a candid recap of his professional journey, marked by notable triumphs and challenges. Reflecting on his early years, Phelps recalled the peculiarity of training with peers eight years his senior. He spoke about his passion for swimming, despite its inherently solitary nature.

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He remarked on the isolation, with no opportunity for discussion or music during the endeavor—just an athlete and their thoughts. Furthermore, Phelps highlighted the year 2004 as an initial period of mental health struggles, leading to experiences of seasonal depression. A decade later, in 2014, he faced a second depressive episode.

Michael Phelps opened up about those dark times, describing an intense personal battle and feelings of inadequacy in fulfilling his professional duties. This internal strife eventually led to his decision to seek assistance at a rehabilitation facility. Before seeking help, Phelps recalled the poignant act of sending his mother a message expressing his fear and uncertainty.

It was a message that went unanswered as he entered the facility to begin his recovery in silence. It was not until several days later that he began to engage with others around him.

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Michael Phelps says that people don’t talk about their mental status  

Phelps, now able to recount these experiences with clarity, acknowledges his current comfort but remains cognizant of the widespread prevalence of mental health issues. His candid reflections provide a window into the mental rigors faced by elite athletes. It underscores the critical need for dialogue and support regarding mental health concerns.

One in four people have a mental health problem and they don't talk about it.
Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps [Image Credit- Imago]

If conversation around a subject becomes common, it inevitably leads to normalization. This is particularly pertinent given the alterations wrought by the pandemic. Isolation, a frequent occurrence during the pandemic, underscores the importance of expressing one’s feelings. The act of sharing personal experiences and emotional states can be greatly beneficial for communal support.

Life is inherently flawed, yet embracing vulnerability by communicating openly can alleviate some of its burdens, such as the constant demand to perform without error. Reflecting on his own experience, Michael Phelps acknowledges that his defeat in London was instrumental in forging his subsequent success.

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The despair I felt by not securing victory in 2012 was profound, yet that loss may have been pivotal to my drive to excel in Rio.
Michael Phelps

Post-retirement, after an 18-month hiatus from competition, Phelps returned at the age of 31 with a renewed zeal reminiscent of his teenage years. His preparation for his final professional chapter in 2016 was met with an enthusiasm worthy of his youthful beginnings. The antipathy he felt towards swimming after his initial retirement transformed into fulfillment after his final departure from the sport; Phelps ultimately achieved a departure on his terms.

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