‘It’s OK to step back’: Portsmouth mental health specialist says Simone Biles is challenging the status quo

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — #Mentalhealthfirst is a popular hashtag on Twitter this week.

After U.S. gymnastics icon Simone Biles announced she will not compete in the all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic games. Biles is the reigning gold medalist in the all-around final.

A statement from USA Gymnastics said the break will allow her to focus on her mental health. Biles will be evaluated daily to determine whether she will participate in next week’s individual event finals.

The statement expressed support for Biles’ decision to prioritize her well-being.

Jade Carey will take Biles’ place in the all-around competition Thursday.

Now, people from all over the world are talking about her decision.

“It took a lot of courage,” said Dr. Matthew Rosario, a mental health specialist based in Portsmouth. “To say, ‘I’m the best in the sport but right now, I’m not going to be the best in the sport because I don’t have my mental health priorities straight.'”

Initial reports said Biles injured herself during a vault warm-up, on Tuesday. However, during a press conference, Biles said her mindset was not completely there to compete.

“I just felt like it would be a little bit better to work on my mindfulness. I knew the girls would do an absolutely great job and I didn’t want to risk the team a medal for my screw-ups because they worked way too hard for that,” she said.

Rosario said Biles is challenging the negative attitudes surrounding mental health.

“That stigma is still there. We’d rather say it’s a medical issue and not say it’s a mental health issue because you look frowned upon,” Rosario said.

Now, we see how mental health impacts athletes, but how does this relate to everyone else?

“It’s OK to acknowledge that you have a mental health crisis going on. It’s OK to take a step back and reevaluate what’s going on in your life,” Rosario said.

Some opponents argue Biles is disappointing others.

“It’s not about letting people down because at the end of the day. If you are not taking care of your own mental health and you’re not taking care of yourself. You must really focus on yourself and understand that if you’re not good, you’re not going to be able to help the person next to you,” Rosario said.

Rosario said it’s important to start the conversation about mental health early with children and students.

Mental health forums with the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame:

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