In a candid discussion on mental health in sports at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka shared her personal battle with depression and how it made her “very scared of social media.” She has been an outspoken advocate for mental health in sports, and her revelations shed light on the challenges athletes face both on and off the court.
Osaka’s journey to becoming a vocal advocate began with her withdrawal from the 2021 French Open due to depression and anxiety. This incident had a significant impact on the discourse surrounding mental health in sports, prompting a much-needed conversation. During the panel discussion, which included luminaries like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and Dr. Brian Hainline, Osaka discussed various aspects of mental health, including the role of social media.
Osaka admitted that somewhere along the line, she got very scared of social media. This fear highlights the immense pressure athletes face in the digital age, where the relentless scrutiny of their personal lives can exacerbate mental health struggles.
During her hiatus from tennis, taken for her mental well-being and the birth of her daughter, Shai, Osaka gained a new perspective on her career. She emphasized the need to cherish every moment in the sport she loves and encouraged others to reach out for support when facing mental health challenges. She revealed to ESPN that she has plans to play again at the Australian Open next year in January.
As Osaka continues to use her platform to promote change, the sports world is gradually recognizing the significance of prioritizing mental health alongside physical performance.
Featured Image Source: Naomi Osaka