US Open unfolds amid a brand new period for gamers’ psychological well being
NEW YORK, Aug 28 (Reuters) – The mental health of players will be the focus as the US Open kicks off on Monday after four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka took responsibility for her fellow athletes this year.
The 23-year-old withdrew from the French Open after threatening a fine for refusing to attend media conferences, which adversely affected her mental health, and said she had suffered from depression for years.
The incident led Roland-Garros organizers to admit that the governing bodies of the sport needed to get better, and the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) this week announced a mental health initiative for players in partnership with the Mount Sinai Health System. Continue reading
“Sports psychology has always been in the field of ‘How do we optimize on the pitch?’ but there are so many reasons post-competition athletes are affected, “Shannon O’Neill, PhD, psychologist at Mount Sinai West, told Reuters.
“Truly promoting a multi-faceted person, not just an athlete … I think that’s really crucial in the therapeutic process.”
A broader conversation about mental health in sports has developed since Roland-Garros when four-time Rio Olympic champion Simone Biles retired from multiple gymnastics events at the Tokyo Games to focus on mental health and seek global support obtain.
At Flushing Meadows this week, world number two Aryna Sabalenka said reporters working with a psychologist had paid off on and off the pitch.
Previously, she credited therapy for helping her deal with the pressures of Wimbledon where she reached the semifinals in the best major performance of her career.
“Knowing that I have someone to help me whenever I need them … it’s definitely help,” she said. “Once I couldn’t sleep at night because I was thinking about everything. I just called her and talked to her … After that I felt much better.”
It is imperative for sports federations to act quickly to provide more support to athletes, Bob Dorfman, creative director at Baker Street Advertising, told Reuters, with the issue still at the fore.
“Athletes’ mental health was never really a big issue until Naomi Osaka bravely made it public and Simone Biles bravely took center stage,” he said. “It is admirable that the US Open is proposing initiatives in this regard, but it cannot be lip service or temporary.
“Actions need to be sincere, ongoing, and well-funded. Everything else will sound wrong.”
For its part, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has teamed up with seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams and worked with psychiatry service provider BetterHelp for a “free therapy giveaway” worth $ 2 million.
“We need to create an accepting and open environment in order to receive professional psychotherapy,” said Williams.
Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Arrangement by Michael Perry
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