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Therapist: Simone Biles speaking out on mental health could help others with their own struggles

Iowa therapist Kenneth Cameron joined Local 5's Stephanie Angleson to discuss the Olympian's brave move to abstain from competing over her mental health.
Credit: AP
Simone Biles, of the United States, waits to perform on the vault during the artistic gymnastics women's final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — This week, Simone Biles decided to not defend her Olympic title in the all-around women's gymnastics competition, and it seems like everyone is weighing in on her decision. 

In order to understand the "Why" behind Biles's decision, Local 5's Stephanie Angleson spoke with Iowa licensed mental health therapist Kenneth Cameron. 

The following is a transcript of the Q&A discussion. 

Q: What can we all learn from someone's big decision, of course, to not compete in certain events at the Olympics, and how that could then translate into our own recognition of the importance of drawing boundaries and protecting our mental health? 

A: Well, what we can draw from this is that we all need to be proactive instead of reactive in making our self-care a priority. We all go through things, we all endure different things in our lives, and it's very important that we begin to self-care and make our mental health a priority. 

And I think by her coming out this week, it is going to open up doors for individuals to know that it is OK to be OK and that it's OK to not be OK. 

RELATED: What Simone Biles told her all-around replacement before the final

Q: Now, of course, Simone Biles ... I'm going to say that was a bold and brave move. That's me editorializing a little bit there, of course, but she has an enormous platform. Do you think that this could have an impact on the conversations that we're having about mental health across the board? 

A: Absolutely. It's going to make it easier for individuals to come forward. We figure, "Hey, if Simone Biles, someone that great, can come forth and address the mental impairments that she's having, hey, we all can." 

I believe that her coming out and addressing what she was enduring is going to begin to crush the stigma, is going to begin to crush the mental health stigma. And more individuals will feel more comfortable to coming out and talking about what they are experiencing mentally. 

RELATED: The 'twisties': Explaining the frightening phenomenon Simone Biles mentioned

RELATED: 'I'm more than my accomplishments': Simone Biles tweets gratitude for support

Q: And I'm glad that you mentioned stigma, because we have seen this, too, this conversation that there still is a stigma and almost some animosity towards what she decided to do for her own well-being. So, where do you think that is coming from? 

A: Well, a lack of understanding. And then individuals who are simply inconsiderate, unfair and unrealistic. Let me tell you, what she did this week showed a sign of strength, not weakness.

What she did shows a sign of strength. She's a very strong individual, and I really hope she knows that. And I really wish individuals would begin to, you know, really understand that what mental health is all about and what individuals that suffer and struggle with mental health have to endure. 

And I believe that if they would understand that they will be more compassionate. 

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