Advocating For Your Mental Health: 5 Tips Inspired by Naomi Osaka
Tennis star Naomi Osaka recently withdrew from the French Open after announcing she would not be participating in post-match press conferences due to mental health issues. In her announcement she recognized the requirement of players to participate in media opportunities, and asked that any potential fines be donated to a related cause. Since the missed press conference, Osaka has completely withdrawn from the french open and announced she will be “taking time away from the court.”
Since taking the opportunity to advocate for her own mental health, Osaka has expanded on her statements through messages posted on social media:
In the aftermath of this event, many fellow athletes have used their platforms to provide support to Osaka.
17-year-old American Coco Gauff, tweeted in response: "I admire your vulnerability" and told Osaka to "stay strong."
Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, tweeted that she is "so sad about Naomi Osaka," and added that "perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift."
Additionally, 23 time grand slam winner Serena Williams stated, "I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug, because I know what it's like. Everyone is different, and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way that she thinks she can, and that's the only thing I can say, I think she's doing the best that she can."
Even outside of the tennis world, athletes have chimed in with support. For example, NBA basketball player Steph Curry tweeted "impressive" and offered "major respect" to Osaka for "taking the high road when the powers that be don’t protect their own."
Naomi Osaka stood up for what she needed to protect her mental health. Her example as a leading athlete has the potential to impact many of those living with mental health issues.
Did Naomi inspire you? Continue reading for five things you can do to be a better advocate for your mental health.
Be an expert on yourself
Decide what you want, know what you need. When expressing these needs to others, be sure to assert and express yourself clearly.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Recognizing that you need help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.
Be honest with your community
Disclosing as much as you're comfortable with the people around you, whether colleagues, friends, parents etc. can help them better empathize with your needs.
Be kind to yourself
Leaving time to care for yourself can easily fit into any schedule. 5 minutes of deep breathing during work, an hour a week with a reputable therapist, or anything in between is key to maintaining your mental health.
Know Your rights
Legally we are all entitled to equality, and your mental health struggles should not be at a detriment to your rights.