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Michael Phelps praises Simone Biles for mental health break – ‘We all need to ask for help sometimes too’

The New York Daily News - 7/28/2021

Michael Phelps knows what it’s like to need help — and what it’s like to not know how to ask.

The former Olympic swimmer has spent much of his post-competition career advocating for mental health, especially among athletes, and now he’s watching gymnast Simone Biles go through the same struggles he survived.

“This is an opportunity for all of us to really learn more about mental health, to all help each other out,” Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, said Wednesday on “Today.”

“For me, I want people to be able to have somebody that can support them, who’s non-judgmental and who’s willing to hold space. There’s a lot that we can do to help one another and we have to start. We can’t brush it under the rug anymore.”

The 36-year-old swimmer’s comments came a day after Biles dropped out of the Team USA finals and hours before she announced that she was withdrawing from Thursday’s all-around finals as well.

“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too,” Biles said Tuesday after the finals, during which Team USA came in second behind Russia. “We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”

While Phelps said Biles’ decision “broke my heart,” he also said he completely understands where the 24-year-old gymnast is coming from.

“I hope this is an opportunity for us to jump on board, and to even blow this mental health thing even more wide open. It is so much bigger than we can ever imagine,” he said.

“I think the biggest thing is, we all need to ask for help sometimes too. I can say personally, it was something that very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help.”

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