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A Week like no other: The courage of athletes leads the way for mental health

Hope & Harmony Headlines • SubscribeOctober 7, 2021 • Volume 14, Issue 39Though mental health is an important topic year-round, the first full week..

mental health awareness week athletes olympians simone biles michael phelps naomi osaka kate nye

Hope & Harmony Headlines • Subscribe
October 7, 2021 • Volume 14, Issue 39

Though mental health is an important topic year-round, the first full week of October is Mental Illness Awareness Week, marked by community education efforts across the country that spotlight mental health challenges and reduce the social stigma around receiving treatment.

Officially established by Congress in 1990, this year’s events—from October 3 to 9—are perhaps more celebratory and thought-provoking than ever before because of the spotlight elite athletes have been shining on mental health.

Among them are well-known: Grand Slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka and Olympian gymnast Simone Biles, whose bravery in being vocal about their mental health struggles has fueled a long-critical topic into a burgeoning mainstream movement.

“There’s this overall sort of ethic in our society around grinning and bearing it, taking it on the chin,” says Michael A. Lindsey, executive director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University, who also studies mental health. As for Osaka and Biles, “although this was a move for themselves, it’s also a step for the entire world.”

Olympic weightlifting silver medalist Kate Nye, who has bipolar II, has been another voice in what has become a global conversation.

“I want to use my platform as an athlete to continue to open up the dialogue when it comes to all mental health disorders,” Nye told ESPN. “I want to continue to have uncomfortable conversations about my diagnosis if it means helping others understand what it means to [have] bipolar.”

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) is centering its Mental Illness Awareness Week events around the organization’s new awareness campaign, “Together for Mental Health,” focusing on the importance of advocating for better care for people with serious mental illness.

That next level of care must, say mental health advocates, start treating “head health” like any other health condition.

“We are at a critical and important time after many, many decades of hard work by so many,” says American Psychiatric Association President-elect Rebecca W. Brendel, MD, JD. “The bottom line, now that we have mental health in the national spotlight, is that we’re helping all people understand that mental health is part of health. We can’t separate the two.” Read “This Is the Moment” >>

The Power of Music as a Balm for Bipolar

At times, music can enthrall our senses and center our thoughts in the present moment. Its undeniable power can improve our mood and provide peace of mind.

By Ian Grey

Panic Attacks & Medicinal Music

I was about 14 when I had my first screaming, flailing, world-turned-upside-down terror attack. Sitting in the bedroom of my parents’ GI Bill house, I felt a bolt of noxious energy turn the air around me grainy, as if reality were suddenly an ugly 16mm film. The universe beyond my bedroom seemed blackly occupied by a terrifying, malign presence.

My parents quieted me with a sedative from the medicine cabinet, but for weeks I lived in nauseous fear of another visitation—until a remedy appeared: Electric Light Orchestra’s “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle.”

The song is one of the band’s typical post-Beatles’ confections, but with a telling difference: a super-distorted guitar. In that big guitar’s rich, enveloping harmonics was an elemental ally that blotted out my terror like a sonic Avenger. It was awesome. Read more >>

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By: Robin L. Flanigan
Title: A Week Like No Other: Athletes’ Bravery Leads the Way for Mental Health
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Published Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2021 15:08:06 +0000