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Experts: Biles’ Olympic withdrawal could help normalize topic of mental health care

Simone Biles, of the United States, waits to perform on the vault during the artistic...
Simone Biles, of the United States, waits to perform on the vault during the artistic gymnastics women's final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. The American gymnastics superstar has withdrawn the all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)(Gregory Bull | AP)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Simone Biles’ decision is sparking conversations about the pressures these athletes face and the importance of mental healthcare. Experts believe it could usher in a shift away from the stigma tied to therapy.

“It’s really, really scary to admit your child needs help,” said social worker, Kristin Lennox with ChildSavers.

She says the nonprofit is seeing more and more young people being open about their mental health, “whether it be through social media, viral TikToks and things like that, Instagram slides. People are learning more and more about putting their mental health and wellness at the forefront.”

ChildSavers has seen more patients since the pandemic began, and even still as people recognize its lingering effects. The group says since July 2020 until June 2021, they’ve helped 668 kids get therapy, and have seen a 14% increase in service.

“People need people, we learned that the most this last year,” Lennox said.

She believes that an Olympian like Simone Biles disclosing such a personal matter could help others that are suffering feel like they’re not alone.

“Simone is human, she’s doing her job. It really does normalize the conversation around mental health and wellness, and it makes it a priority.”

She hopes that it can help parents who might be leery of therapy in general for their kids.

“They can have their feelings without any shame and that can talk about those things. Be prepared to be doing some work while you’re in there. We’re only with them but an hour. You’re with them the rest of the time, so you’re their resource, and you’re who we really want to partner with,” Lennox added.

More information on their services can be found on their website. They also provide a 24-hour hotline for anyone, regardless if they are a patient or not. The hotline can be reached at 804-305-2420.

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