8 Athletes Who Have Prioritized Mental Health — and How Their Stances Benefit Us All

Photo Courtesy: (from left to right) Sarah Stier/Getty Images; David Liam Kyle/NBA/Getty Images; Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images; and Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Together Live

Unfairly, many of us have put athletes on pedestals — and not just the kind where medals and trophies are doled out for their wins. That is, the media often portrays athletes as superhuman, as people whose strength, stamina, endurance, and sheer willpower can't be matched. But even if this viewpoint is meant to be a compliment, the intention doesn't outweigh the cost.

Putting anyone on a pedestal like that often disregards the individual's humanity. Yes, we love cheering on athletes and watching their accomplishments, but, above all else, they are people who experience mental illness, stress and other mental health-related challenges, too. And all of that pressure they're under can exacerbate anxiety, stress and more. 

Regardless of your career path, it can be difficult to put your mental health first or share that you have a mental illness or disorder, especially since stigma persists. However, these eight athletes are looking to make real change. By leading by example and speaking out about their own experiences, these world champs and Olympians are undoing stigmas and bringing visibility to mental health. And, in the end, that's forging a new, more sustainable path for us all.