This individual epitomized success: 23 gold, three silver, and two bronze. Although the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps had his fair share of mental health issues. Ever since he was young, Phelps was detached from his father as his parents ended up being divorced, leaving his mother Debbie to take care of Michael and his siblings. After the 2008 Olympics, where he won a historic eight gold medals, Phelps had a photo of him smoking from a marijuana pipe. From then on, his life went downhill. He hated his image of perfection and had no one to trust except his family and coach, Bob Bowman. Once an individual reaches the pinnacle of the sport and works so hard for a singular goal for four years and achieves it, they feel lost, clueless, and lack the drive they once had. When Phelps first retired in 2012, he admitted he wanted “nothing to do with the sport,” which allowed him to live a more free life where he could have fun outside of the sport. However, his fun ended abruptly when he was arrested for a DUI. From an American icon to a shamed individual, Phelps contemplated suicide after this incident and underwent severe depression. He felt the world would be better without him and admitted that he could not sleep, eat, or move out of his room following the incident. After going through intensive behavioral therapy, seeking advice from fellow Baltimore spots icon Ray Lewis, and reading “The Purpose Driven Life,” Phelps was able to get his life back on track. He finished his career strong at the Rio Olympics, winning five gold and one silver medal. 

One thing we should take from his story is that life is full of challenges and successes. And speaking and reaching out to those around you when you feel challenged is the most important thing to do. Phelps’ ability to acknowledge his mistakes and his willingness to improve his current situation is what makes him so successful. Even after beating his challenges, Phelps is raising awareness and opening up about his struggles to the rest of the world, especially his fight with depression and ADHD. Not only is he helping himself, but he has also helped countless other individuals in similar situations to what he once went through by normalizing the discussion of mental health.




Despite being the former world #1 in female tennis and 4 Grand Slam titles, Naomi Osaka had her fair share of mental health struggles. Before 2018, Osaka flew under the radar, so her games were not as heavily scrutinized as some other high-profile players. However, after her victory over Serena Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open, she said, “the amount of attention I get is kind of ridiculous.” From magazines with her face on the front cover to the media discussing her family origins, needless to say, she was overwhelmed by the pressure of being on top. From then on, she said she “tied winning to [her] worth as a person,” and when she could not replicate her initial success, this did not bode well for her (Ruiz, 2021). She opened up about her bouts of depression and skipped press conferences as that triggered an adverse effect on her mental health. Her personality is quite reserved, and she often gets anxiety from speaking to the whole world while trying to give them the best answers possible. Even if that meant being fined $15,000 and threatened with expulsion, she realized that her health superseded anything else (Hislop). Her bravery and willingness are so inspiring for those in the same shoes as her, as it teaches them the importance of exercising self-care and being open to talking about their struggles.