We see you! It is human to not be okay!
Since the world plunged into the 2020-2021 blur of COVID-19, America has plunged into a mental health crisis. “According to [a] CDC report which surveyed adults across the U.S. in…2020, 31% of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, 13% reported having started or increased substance use, 26% reported stress-related symptoms, and 11% reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days. These numbers are nearly double the rates we would have expected before the pandemic,” (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm), and the data for 2021 shows an increase in over 460,000 adults contemplating suicide, (https://mhanational.org/issues/2021/mental-health-america-prevalence-data). So, why did the media criticize Osaka for missing a press conference? If she had covid, or she were injured in the hospital, would she have received the same criticism?
Time for Change
The public has brushed mental health under the rug far too long. Naomi Osaka recognizing the press conference platform as an unhealthy trigger for her and then avoiding it was courageous. Mental health should not be viewed as less significant or separate from healthcare. Emotions and chemical brain activity are part of our healthcare, are they not? Furthermore, people, no matter their profession, should be allowed equal healthcare rights, including privacy of symptoms.
“Believe it or not, I am naturally introverted and do not court the spotlight. I always try to push myself to speak up for what I believe to be right, but that often comes at a cost of great anxiety,”
Naomi Osaka. Photo/ 27olympics-briefing-osaka-update
No Means No, & Personal means Personal
In an article with Time Magazine, Osaka spoke out about the treatment she received from the press. “I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms—frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me. I do not wish that on anyone.” Osaka’s celebrity status does not mean the rest of the world needs to know everything about her. Yes, the media and fans may care and desire to know what ails her, but she has the right to dictate what she shares, especially if she’s not ready to talk about it. Shame on the media guilty of said pressure.
An Unsung Hero
Despite the shameful reaction by certain press and her own anxiety, Osaka stepped into the spotlight to stand up for mental health injustice for all. “I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s O.K. to not be O.K.,” Time Magazine. Naomi, thank you for standing up for yourself and showing the world, what boundaries for mental health care should look like.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”Glenn Close
After global isolation for months on end, we all need a little mental TLC. According to the global mental health report, “Negative societal responses to people with mental illnesses may be the single greatest barrier to the development of mental health programs worldwide,” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5314742/). The effects that plague our nation from Isolation, quarantines, and cognitive dissonance are literally screaming for help across America. Mental health must be a priority. And those who know their boundaries and enforce them should never be shamed publicly for doing so. BRAVO, NAOMI!