As I continue to read the articles about Naomi Osaka removing herself from the French Open and the ongoing scrutiny that she is facing for how she shared the news of why she removed herself, I feel there is a need to pause. Naomi took the steps she needed to provide her mind the self-care it needed. She recognized that her battle with depression since 2018 was reason enough to step back from the media interviews that were required to play in the Open. After paying a $15,000.00 fine and learning that she would be suspended from the Open, she removed herself from the competition.
As I read some of the criticism on how she used Instagram to share her story, I am reminded that not everyone will use the same avenue to share what they are going through. Sometimes, it’s reaching out to a close friend, other times it’s posting on social media, and yet other times, it’s choosing silence.
Often with fame and money comes intense expectation and obligation. But when do fame, money, and a contract topple over humanity and basic human needs? Is it not reasonable to believe that we all need a pause from time to time to care for ourselves?
Some say that the pandemic has leveled the mental health needs of our community. In fact, it has only heightened the struggle some were already facing and brought to light the struggles that others have never had before.
Today is a day where we can pause to remind ourselves that not everyone is doing ok and that it’s helpful to talk about the mental health needs that you, your loved ones, or neighbors, may be struggling through. To our athletes who our agency continues to support, please take this as an opportunity to find your voice in whatever way suits you. Depression, anxiety, isolation, loss – whatever you may be experiencing, those are your feelings. You matter first as a person, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister. We are here for you.
We have an opportunity to respond differently, to engage with open minds and hearts as we help those who are sharing their story – to respond with humanity first. I hope you will take some time to reach out to those in your circle, letting them know that their mental health and physical health matters more than anything.
Beth Anne Langrell
CEO, For All Seasons