C-Force: Are We Ready to Get Real in Facing Mental Health Challenges?

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When Naomi Osaka, the No. 2 ranked woman in the world in tennis, refused late last month to participate in post-match news conferences at the French Open because those conferences contributed to her depression and anxiety, many were critical of her actions. Tennis officials threatened to suspend her and fined her $15,000. She later withdrew from the Grand Slam event and acknowledged to suffering "long bouts of depression" in a statement.

Since then, her actions have greatly heated up discussions about mental health "not only for professional athletes but for everyone after a year of enduring a pandemic," notes Newsweek's Lauren Giella.

As recently pointed out by NPR Morning Edition host Noel King, when an athlete in a Grand Slam event is physically injured, they are allowed to skip such commitments.

"If the doctor says that, you know, they can't physically make it to a press sitting, they are actually given time away," says King, and, if needed, physical rehabilitation.

When speaking with King, Kanyali Ilako, a sports psychologist with the Kenyan Summer Olympics team, said that talking about your struggles as an athlete is perceived as a weakness. "Also, mental health is not particularly something that you can see. It's just not something that people have fully understood. So it's almost like, sweep it under the rug because we don't understand it, and we hope that it disappears," says Ilako.

"These are ordinary common human problems. And I firmly believe that isolation and shame directly contribute to people not getting help," claims Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness to the Associated Press. "Osaka's decision to publicly discuss her mental health is a positive sign to others who are struggling," he adds.


And Duckworth is right. We are struggling. The Associated Press says: "A survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau found an increase in the numbers of adults with anxiety and depression. The study found that the percentage of adults with symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder increased from 36.4 percent to 41.5 percent from August 2020 to February 2021."

Children are not exempt either. As reported by Time magazine, a study published April 29 in JAMA Network Open sheds light on how serious that harm has been. In a survey of more than 32,000 caregivers who look after children from kindergarten to grade 12 in the Chicago public school system, "the results were striking," says psychologist Tali Raviv at Northwestern University, who led the study.

"The pivot point of the research was March 21, 2020: the day that in-person instruction ended," writes Time's Jeffrey Kluger

"On every one of the negative traits the overall scores went up, and on every one of the positive ones, there was a decline... Just 3.6% of kids overall were reported to exhibit signs of being lonely before the schools were shuttered and 31.9% were that way after, a massive shift of 28.3 percentage points. Only 4.2% of children were labeled agitated or angry before the closures, compared to 23.9% after, a jump of 19.7 points."


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Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate, Inc.



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