Simone Biles is a pioneer on and off the mat. Despite her record-breaking feats and world-firsts in gymnastics, the 24-year-old prioritising her mental health and her own wellbeing on the public stage trumps them all.
By sharing her journey with the public, she opened the door and the discussion for the estimated 800 million people living with a mental health condition worldwide.
Athletes have a unique platform. They are hailed for their sporting accolades, inspire generations after them, can become advocates for change and are now helping to destigmatise mental health by sharing their own journeys.
Often athletes lead the way in change. And by athletes, such as Biles, sharing their experiences with mental health, it changes societal perceptions.
Despite the progress in destigmatising mental health as "weakness" in recent years through health campaigns, the reaction to Biles' Olympic withdrawals shows some still see it as such, with many worldwide plugging the "toughen up" and "just get on with it" message.
Another aspect is the public struggling to understand how the best gymnast in the world, at the peak of her career, could have any mental health concerns. How could she? She is performing tricks we have never seen before and is rumoured to have a net worth of up to $10 million. What would she have to worry about?
Besides the obvious pressure to perform well, public criticism at every turn and becoming the face of the USA gymnastics sexual assault survivors' story, it highlights mental health does not discriminate.
Science has been telling us this for years, and it is this troupe of "well she doesn't have it as bad as *insert name*" that forces people to suffer in silence and allows mental health to take lives.
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We are yet to reach a point in our society where we accept someone taking a step back on mental health grounds without negative reactions and scepticism in some corners.
If an athlete is ruled out of competition due to a physical injury, people do not bat an eyelid, they accept it at face value. However, if an athlete steps away due to their mental health, they are bombarded with questions, criticisms and scepticism.
A viral tweet from The Athletic journalist Kavitha A. Davidson pointed out just how tough and inspiring Biles is, having competed with broken toes, while passing a kidney stone and carrying the burden of being the face of sexual assault survivors as a national institution failed to support them.
But an athlete, or anyone for that matter, should not have to justify their mental health. It should be accepted at face value.
The dialogue by certain athletes and media commentators on Biles' decision negatively effects the one-in-five Australians living with mental health conditions, painting a picture that if they speak up or talk about it they, too, are "weak".
The inability of people to grasp Biles' decision has wider ramifications. It re-enforces harmful messages around not speaking up about mental health and allows it to continue to silently fester.
This neglects the fact mental health is as important as physical health.
Through Biles sharing her story, she is giving a voice and a platform to the importance of it, which in turn shifts perceptions in Australia and around the world.
Athletes right here in Australia and Canberra are also helping to reduce the archaic stigma around mental health, too.
These athletes are directly and indirectly using their platform to a draw awareness to mental health and helping to end the stigma attached to it.
The more athletes share their mental health journeys, the more it will become as common as an athlete sitting out due to a physical injury.