Michael Phelps, Michelle Obama steer pandemic spotlight on mental health crisis

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever. Michelle Obama is a beloved former first lady. Both are steering the pandemic spotlight on the mental health crisis.

“It’s been extremely difficult because we don’t have social interaction,” said Phelps.

Even an Olympic champion countless times over isn’t immune to the stress of current events like the coronavirus.

“I think the biggest thing I can say is – you’re not alone,” he said.

Phelps is not alone in sharing his mental health struggles. Obama opened up about her issues with low-grade depression stemming from the pandemic, recent protests and racial unrest.

“It has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life in a while,” she said.

Their going public is a great boost to the people who deal with this crisis locally.

“We always think of endorsements from celebrities as being a cereal, or tennis shoe or something like that, but these are the kind of endorsements, the real life-changing kind of endorsements, that make a huge difference to people,” said Dr. Reid Kirchhoff, clinical coordinator for the David Lawrence Center.

He says knowing even some of the most successful people in the world share their sufferings helps us all normalize these feelings, they also offer hope anyone can overcome these struggles.

“Having individuals who are pushing through but struggling says a lot. It says that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” Kirchhoff said.

“I think just talking about what you’re going through – for me, it’s literally been a game-changer, a life-changer,” Phelps said.

So if you’re struggling, don’t do so in silence. Ask for help.

Kirchhoff said even if you don’t like video chat programs like Zoom or FaceTime, try them.  They can help you connect with friends and family, which is valuable and helpful.


Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Briana Harvath
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