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Naomi Osaka Proves There Is No Health Without Mental Health

Photo by Joice Kelly on Unsplash

As most know by now, tennis star Naomi Osaka announced that she would be withdrawing from the French Open after she was fined and threatened to be disqualified for refusing to speak to the media during the tournament. When pressed to provide a reason, Osaka admitted she was a socially anxious person and was looking to protect her mental health.

Mental health continues to be a polarizing topic in America and across the globe. The Osaka story has brought about arguments over whether the obligation to fulfill one’s job requirements, which in Osaka’s case includes talking to the press – is more important that maintaining mental wellness.

Senior Vice President and Provost of Western University of Health Sciences, Dr. David Baron, was recently elected chair of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Caucus on Global Mental Health and Psychiatry. Dr. Baron believes Osaka could lead the charge for shifting the perception of mental illness in the sports world.

“Physical injuries are routinely accepted as acceptable excuses for missing scheduled press conferences, but emotional or mental injuries are not accepted as of yet,” said Dr. Baron. “We are coming off one of the most stressful years in human history. With so much loss and isolation, anxiety levels are high. There’s a long-term stigma that those who suffer from mental health issues should just get over it, but human beings in any profession can suffer the effects of anxiety and stress,” continued Dr. Baron.

As a 23-year-old woman, Osaka is a prominent figure in a generation that is more likely to acknowledge mental health issues. Every person in the public eye who comes forward with their struggles with mental health makes it easier for those suffering to acknowledge their issue and seek the medical care they need.

According to Dr. Baron: 

  • Osaka has been criticized in the media for coming out in support of Black Lives Matter and other societal causes.
  • The stick-to-sports stigma is damaging to the well-being of athletes and they should be allowed to use their platform to speak their mind.
  • Money does not always buy happiness. Stress can be a major issue for those in the public eye.
  • As more sports leagues start to consider the mental wellness of their players, there will continue to be major changes to how medical staffs treat their athletes.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.