When tennis player Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Roland Garros due to the need for self-care, the care of her mental well-being, I thought about how important it could be for other people in her same situation to see that one can decide to pause and take care of oneself when things get to be too much. It doesn’t matter who one is–young or old, a public or a private person–mental health does not discriminate, and we are all likely to suffer because of it at some moment of our lives.
This week, when gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the individual finals at the Olympic Games, I thought the same thing. Suddenly, news began to come out about other elite athletes who underwent the same circumstances like Andrés Iniesta and Michael Phelps. And upon reading them, I realized that at some point this year, the way that some in the media talked about these subjects had already changed. The normalization of mental health is important, and for better or worse, the media shares responsibility when it comes to making us understand that there is nothing wrong in wanting to stop doing something to take care of one’s mental or physical health.
But it’s not only them (the super athletes, the super artists…) who suffer. No one is free from stress. And even though because of their public profile these people have the weight of the world on their shoulders, today more than ever there is a generation of young (and not so young) people exposed to the constant microstress of social media, and this stress seems not to affect us, but it has already been proven to be quite harmful. The media has a responsibility–it’s true–but we do too because our anonymous opinion (the same that we share in social media without giving it much thought), also has an impact, and a serious one, in the mental health of those who surround us.