{ "media_type": "image", "post_content": "Honest question here for a discussion. Have mental health topics (and the openness for a discussion around it) become more mainstream or is the younger generation really not as cut out to handle the stresses and pressure of their chosen occupation. Or is there more pressure on them because of technology, internet, etc?\n\nhttps://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/jul/27/simone-biles-withdraws-tokyo-2020-olympics-gymnastics-all-around-final?", "post_id": "610049d735ac1a002acbf379", "reply_count": 164, "vote_count": 9, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d051", "bowl_name": "Consulting", "feed_type": "crowd" }
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I anticipate this will be an unpopular position re: Biles, but…

Yes. Mental health matters. I 100% support Biles and others giving (and getting) as much attention and resources to their mental health as their physical achievements.

But.

This is the Olympics and we are talking bearing down to get through two, three hours and three events as the anchor of team. Walking away 25% through a team event at the Olympics when you impact your team and you’ve taken that roster spot tens of American gymnasts could have held is … not ideal. Biles and her team should have had a better plan worked out ahead of time.

I’m the parent of an elite athlete in a subjective sport. Child also struggles with anxiety. I’ve seen her melt in national testing events, and I’ve put her back together after bad outings. I get this. It’s why we consider her psychologist part of her team.

I wasn’t in Tokyo, I can’t say for sure what happened. But I think they could have planned better and I think she will regret not finishing the competition she started, even if she needed to adjust the difficulty of her routines to do so. It’s incredibly disappointing that her teammates and those not selected for the spot will be collateral damage to that lack of planning/preparation.

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Suggesting her coaches, psychologists etc may have been poor managers and not taken concrete steps to protect her mind ahead of time (scope management, expectation management, distributing the pressure across the team better, media management) is a strong take

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It's both more openness and more people victim of chronic stressors, predisposing to mental health issues (specially if stressors start from a developmental age) , together with several other different factors.
It's not youngster's "weakness" tho. Keep in mind mental health issues are nowadays next to an alarming 40% of the population and still rising.
About internet (despite being out of topic in the case of Simone, bu since you asked) it is just a small part of the problem , but its effect is indirect. It's not just because you spend more time in front of a screen, that's a non sense rethoric without any detail (quality time is more important than quantity) , but internet has taken some aspect of our society to the extremes (i.e. Individualism, competitiveness, no rest times to elaborate, constant comparison, materialism, information flooding, excess of options), this complex chronic stressors (that's it) translate also, but not only, in a lack of meaningful real life social net, social cohesion and sense of belonging, which are some of the greatest protectors against stress and traumas. No surprise people who lack social support from an early age for more obvious causes, are several times more prone to mental health issues.

likesmart

Btw, don't forget she is participating in an event which is itself a huge chronic stressor both physically and mentally, plus we do know nothing about her, her experiences, her being black, and personality (which is the biggest endogen factor) . I never judge in these cases.

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Definitely the fact that people are more willing to talk about mental health as well as amplified pressure by technology. In the past people would just drink themselves to death/kill themselves, but today they are more willing to seek help (which to some is an example of "weakness" or "snowflake mentality")

It's silly to make a generalization that one whole generation is inherently mentally weaker. People aren't that different across the ages.

likesmart

OP-Why is it better to deal with it later? Perhaps if Phelps had dealt with it in real time, he would have had fewer challenges between Olympics. Of course, we’ll never know since he used your preferred method, but did you ever think we may be reducing individual and societal carnage by allowing people to bow out when needed?

I’d also add that apparently other gymnast such as Nastia Liukin have indicated that she did the right thing given the risk of grave injury.

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Mental health is super important and should not be stigmatized.

BUT, part of being an elite athlete/teammate/good sportsman is sustaining physical and mental pressure. You can't be considered the best if you don't have both.

Athletes go through almost as much mental training as they do physical, since the mental wear is so high. Withdrawing like this is disappointing and poor sportsmanship in my opinion (and this is only my opinion you don't have to agree). In any athlete's personal life, mental health should be addressed with high priority, but its part of competition, and part of what makes star athletes star athletes is their ability to be mentally strong

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Simone biles has not lost a championship since 2013 (excluding this week). I think she earned that title regardless of what happens in Tokyo

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She put a goat on her uniform. As the self anointed goat, you have to perform. That means dealing with the massive stress that comes with being the greatest.

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Since I’m old enough to have watched Jordan and the entirety of Brady’s career, neither of them ever personally suggested they were the greatest of all time while they were active.

Generally that comes after a full career and looking backwards and with greater context. Brady was chasing Joe Montana and others while Jordan had Russell, Erving, Wilt, Jabar, Magic and others.

Biles accomplishments are actually more similar to a Wilt Chamberlain because shes so dominant that the rules are being modified. She is clearly the greatest athlete we have seen in her sport and her window of time to capitalize on that is very limited as the sport doesn’t favor age and only really gets attention every 4 years.

Her sport also has zero margin for error given the risk of catastrophic injury. So she also needs to be 100% so she doesn’t end up dead or in a wheelchair. Her decision should be a no brainer and it’s also heartbreaking to work towards the Olympics to then have to exit because of heath.

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It seems the more society focuses on mental illnesses the more people have them. Perhaps there is wisdom in gritting your teeth, focusing on the positive and keeping whatever "illness" remains to yourself

likefunnyupliftingsmart

C1- I’m a licensed mental health clinician and I will assure you that mental illness is not just socially constructed. Depression for example. While all people know what sadness feels like and have even at times maybe said they “feel depressed,” major depressive disorder is not something that you can just change with attitude, it’s physiological. The neurotransmitters in our brain that help us feel happy actually change in a person with depression, and this is why depression leads to severe fatigue, lack of ability to feel or experience joy in things that you once did, intense sadness on a level that decreases your ability to function, decreased capability to focus, decreased appetite… and many more severe things as well. I believe in my heart that you believe what you believe and aren’t just trying to be difficult or something, but I assure you that mental illness is a medical condition and even people who fight hard to reduce their depression, it is a struggle to survive through it and still function and hold a job. It’s quite challenging. There are medications that can help change back your brain chemistry but they take time, and usually therapy is needed to supplement treatment. It’s really a challenge and not just a social construct.

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Mental health is a thing whether you acknowledge it or not. Everyone needs to take care of their mental wellness, even if they do not have a diagnosed condition.

As someone with a mental health condition, to me it sounds like these athletes aren't given enough support to take care of their mental health. I don't think many teams consider having a therapist alongside the physical therapist and nutritionist/dietitian.

Your desire to be entertained does not take priority over the athlete's health, physical or mental. Watching the ROC men's gymnast who was competing on a not completely healed Achilles was excruciating. Just because we cannot see an athlete's suffering doesn't mean it's not valid.

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Focused on the news, I’ll paste here what I said in a different thread: The mental toll of being a top-performing Olympian is just an intrinsic need of the job to deal with, not a mental health issue.

Such as long hours or stress is an intrinsic part of ours. No senior partner would cancel a major client presentation because they can’t handle the pressure. It’s just intrinsic and part of our job is dealing with it.

likefunny

Also sharing my response to this:

BCG 2, two things assuming your comment is in good faith:

1 - Mental health is more nuanced then simply experiencing normal work related stress (understatement of the year). Not to mention the implication of not being in the right state of mind where a split second could result in severe injury.

2 - I don’t think the level of stress of a Sr. partner in a big meeting is anywhere near comparable to performing at the Olympics. Pure hubris to equate them imo. Most people do not have close to a frame of reference for the pressure experienced by these athletes, let alone one so prolific

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Why are we all discussing her mental health without mention of Larry Nassar and the sexual abuse she endured that was covered up by USA gymnastics??

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Yeah as my dad quipped once, "suicide runs in our family." My mom warned me about the dangers of self-medicating (same damn result) due to losses in her family.
Making it more societally acceptable to TALK about mental illnesses/struggles and asking for help when needed will save lives.
Also pressure is definitely higher, social media alone has had an obvious impact

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I *hope* mental health is becoming more of a priority and more openly spoken of, we desperately need it.

Let's be real about what is happening here. The greatest--and this is not in dispute, literally no one has ever been better--gymnast of all time was sexually abused for years, facilitated by the adults in her gymnastics world, and only stayed on the team this year because she didn't want people to be able to sweep the widespread abuse under the rug and forget about it.

She is probably experiencing some PTSD symptoms being back at the Olympics and lost track of where her body was in the air while doing an incredibly difficult move, something that could literally paralyze her or cause another life altering injury. Knowing she was at risk of this happening again because of where her head is at, she bowed out and supported her teammates, cheering them on as they won the silver.

This is the epitome of strength and wisdom and professionalism and to argue otherwise is absolute insanity.

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I feel like a lot of people are missing what she said in the article where she said she doesn’t trust herself. She has the most complex routines in gymnastics history, so complex that she is docked points so that other gymnasts won’t try them as judges deem them dangerous. The moment her mental health means that she doesn’t trust herself, it is no longer a case of pushing through or not as it could also highly affect her physical well-being and her ability to compete as a gymnast for the rest of her life.

I do also believe that she is still competing as an individual, so the US gymnast team might have gotten silver instead of gold but I’m sure if she is competing as an individual, she will still bring back plenty of gold medals to the US.

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As a former professional athlete(multi time national champion, world championship competitor, and 7 years on the US national team) I think mental health is overlooked on the athletes side. As much as teams like to tell you they care, they don’t, it’s all about results. They could care less what happens to you 5 years down the road, and that’s the truth.

But; I must say, if you were in the olympics and you took someone else’s spot, you need to finish. Go see your therapist the day after you’re done competing, but right now, do you job. You worked your ass off to get there, now finish.

I do hate that people come in judging and saying bad things though, as they can’t know if they’ve never been on that stage, but social media has mad that possible for all the peanut galleries to have a say on anything no from the couch

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Are people on this thread actually comparing the "mental stress" of our jobs as consultants to the physical stress an athlete endures in competition? An athlete's mental health issues are directly tied to the physically toll the sport takes on them.

Not feeling her best (something she realized MIDWAY THROUGH her vault) is something to take seriously and because she is as skilled as she is, she chose to change her routine (again, in the middle of flying through the air), avoided serious injury, and bowed out. How much more do y'all need to respect her as an athlete?

Using the analogy of "a manager at a firm doesn't bow out of a presentation due to pressure" is ludicrous (and also comical).

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Rationally, you "may" be right.
But from a psychological and biological perspective you are wrong.
Comparing stressors is not really usefull.
Stress perception is instrinsecally tied with someone's personality and experiences.
I could be a doorman and perceive more stress than an triathlon athlete, even if his physical stressors are objectively much larger than mine.
That said, being a coder (focused 8-9 hours a day solving complex problems which demands lot of mental resources, sedentary lifestyle , delivery pressures, no social contacts most of the day) IS a high stress job. I'm lucky i love it.

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Y’all realize if she messes up on some of her moves that she could die?

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And to add on: if you haven’t competed at the highest levels, you don’t understand that not being mentally there is about the same as trying to compete with broken ribs. Maybe you can do it, but its not smart, particularly if you have a TEAM behind you.

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I think a few things are happening:

1. Science got better. We used to think that only war or specific events caused mental health issues. Now we know that less-flashy things like chronic stress cause issues. We know more about the chemistry, and can better diagnose and treat issues.

2. Gen z is subject to more pressure than before. This is because there seems to be more competition to succeed in an increasingly winner-take-all world, and it is very easy for your lack of success to be broadcast and judged via tech.

3. Most importantly: Mental health is simply a higher priority for Gen Z than other generations. Gen Z is more likely to say something rather than suffer in silence, and they have a lot of prescriptions because they sought help and got it. This is a values gap that "looks weak" to older generations, but Z looks at the older gens in the same way some of us might look at someone who views working 80-100 hour weeks as a badge of honor rather than problematic.

likehelpful

These issues have always existed, it’s just out in the open more. And as someone who has struggled at times with major depressive episodes, it has nothing to do with weakness.

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Yea, o agree.
I'd also add that yea... Always existed, but science says It's clearly rising at alarming rates (which confirms how much larger is the impact of life experiences compared to genetic).

I wonder what actually happened and why now. It’s not like she’s new to the sport and being at the top:

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Some are saying she has the “twistees”. It is a term used by gymnasts, figure skaters, and anyone who does spins, twists etc in their sport.

When you lose your proprioception, the understanding of where your body is in space as you move, your balance is hindered. For someone doing as many twists and spins with such force as she does it can be terrifying and cause a catastrophic injury.

Example for a non athlete, as you are walking down stairs in the dark and you miscount the number of stairs and either jolt down into empty space or bash your foot into the floor because there isn’t another step. This is a sign of poor proprioception, or not knowing where your body is in space. Now multiply that by hundreds or thousands and you will get the potential impact of an Olympic athlete not knowing this location in space as they try to perform.

In this thread...

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There was a paper / expose 6 or 7 years ago that showed pretty convincingly that anxiety has been rising unabated for the last couple decades. Personally, I think that’s just one piece of a very complex story - my guess is that all the factors you mentioned come into play. As much as most people fixate on one cause for these huge trends at the exclusion of most others, they almost always turn out to be complex and multi factorial.

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SC-1. Nobody in the public is actually watching or cares that much. It’s the millions in ads and sponsorship money that is angry and writing hit pieces.

funnyhelpful

Stories about it in the global media is pretty open about it I think.

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