By Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW

News Flash! Simone Biles of the USA 2020 Olympics Gymnastics team took herself out of the Olympic competition due to Mental Health concerns. KUDOS, Simone! One of the best athletes in the world, confident enough to choose herself first.

Simone: Super successful at work (gymnast), sexual assault survivor (at work), 20 something year old woman, Black…and oh yeah, World Famous Athlete! Simone Biles is a superpower. Not only does she have an extraordinarily successful profile, but Biles did something so powerful, so inspiring, so healthy in understanding the importance of self-care. She had one of her highest achievements in choosing her Mental Health Fitness. Our Mental state is just as important as our physical state, and this is a perfect example. PBS quotes Simone as saying, ‘it’s OK sometimes to even sit out (the big competitions) to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a (competitor and) person that you really are — rather than just battle through it.’ When you are feeling overwhelmed or that you need to step back and take care of yourself, remember this strong woman.

News Flash! Naomi Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open, one of the most prestigious tennis competitions in the world, something most tennis players only dream of achieving. Osaka told CNN that she had ‘suffered long bouts of depression since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018.’ Kudos to Naomi for acknowledging her humanness. Achievement can be one of the most stressful mental health challenges. The Times quotes Naomi saying ‘It’s O.K. Not to Be O.K.’ and I agree. Thinking that outer achievements are the marker of a successful person misses our mortal qualities, those parts of us that make us human: feelings, emotions, the ability to have insight, the ability to experience not just the physical rewards of life but the inner workings of being a human-being. Healthy Mental Health is just as important as physical wellbeing and Naomi is a Mental Health Pioneer. She showed the world how important Mental Health wellness really is. Naomi tweets ‘never let anyone’s opinions or comments influence how you view your own life and priorities.’ Lead yourself on your own journey in life, be your own cheerleader, be aware, understand and advocate for what you need. What really counts is your happiness, wellness…YOU!

News Flash! We are all human. We have our external physical health and our internal mental health-both of equal value and importance. Stop your inner battle! It takes insight and courage to know and acknowledge your emotional wellbeing and how to manage it when it falters…and in most cases of being a human being. Mental Health wellness will falter at some point in life by design…it’s in the acknowledgement and seeking of solutions that we become champions of our wellbeing.

Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka get first place as models for Mental Health Wellness and self preservation. We can all follow in their powerful footsteps: Be self-aware, be realistic, make healthy choices. Remember, YOU come first, not a medal, not how you look to others…but you and your wellbeing.

Let’s see what’s next in the world of Mental Health Wellness: awareness, self-care and good Mental Health practices. Thank you to Naomi and Simone for being the first of our hopefully many Mental Health Champions. If they can put themselves first, so can you. How are you putting your Mental Health first today?

Mental Health Awareness is a sign of great strength. Being your own Mental Health Champion takes courage. You can do it. Need Help? We all do at times. Find a trusted adult and talk about it. Feeling in crisis? Text the TeenCrisisLine at 741741 (text the word “home”), call them at 602.248.8336 (TEEN) or seek out the support of a professional mental health provider.

You got this, Girl!


Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW is an Arizona based private practice mental health provider and educator. She is passionate about assisting youth to learn life skills, gain insights and thrive!