Kudos to Simone Biles for prioritising her mental health over simply “pushing through” and performing because that’s what everyone expects her to do.
It really does feel like things have changed recently, with top athletes being more open about the pressures of doing what they do. None of us can really imagine what it’s like to be under that kind of pressure in your teens or early 20s.
Social media is often blamed for creating that pressure (whether you are an athlete or just a regular person), in a way that wasn’t quite there for previous generations.
Looking at the global data on GWI, there does seem to be a correlation.
– All age groups are similarly comfortable talking about their mental health (around 32%) but it’s actually the 55-64s who lead the way here at 35%.
– We can then see a clear pattern, with 16-24s the most likely to be prone to anxiety, the most likely to feel that social media causes anxiety and the most likely to spend 6 or more hours per day on social media. Each of these declines as we go through the older generations
Social media obviously is here to stay and can be a huge force for good, but clearly more needs to be done to help young athletes (and regular young people) to manage and reduce the anxiety that it can create.