Naomi Osaka's experience at the French Open highlights a stark reality that when it comes to mental health there is still a long way to go.
Recent years have been characterised by significant awareness raising of mental health, the impact it can have and how to support someone who may be battling. We’ve come a long way. Mental health is firmly on the national, if not global agenda and we’ve taken substantial steps to reducing stigma.
This past year has seen particular emphasis on self care, and looking after ourselves. News headlines regularly report on the mental health impact of Covid-19 across all demographics from students to the over 65s. Few will have emerged from extended lockdowns unscathed and mental health is one area where the impact is likely to be severe and longstanding.
The rhetoric around mental health is changing. Promoting good mental health, the acceptance of the struggles many of us have and the willingness of high profile individuals and celebrities to speak out and share their stories has contributed to making it an increasingly acceptable and ‘normal’ part of life.
Given all this progress and change it is all the more shocking to witness how Roland Garros have chosen to respond to Naomi Osaka’s attempt to practice self care and her disclosure of her recent struggles with her mental health.
Naomi Osaka, one of the best tennis players in the world, displayed guts and applaudable transparency when she shared how her struggles with depression and social anxiety make media interviews very challenging. In the same breath she took sensible steps to practice good self care and look after herself by initially skipping a post match press conference, and ultimately withdrawing from the tournament altogether.