If you know me you’re probably aware that mental health is something I speak on often. I feel strongly that as a society, despite the enormous amount of research and advocacy that is available we still give mental wellness a backseat to other priorities.

The last 24 hours or so Olympian Simone Biles has blown up social media, I have so much support for her decision to place her mental health in front of the potential of even a Gold Medal. For an athlete of her caliber to walk away from competition on arguably the biggest stage shows a tremendous amount of courage and strength. So many friends, community leaders, businesses, sharing posts supporting her decision. It really is wonderful.

Here’s my challenge to your thoughts though. Cheering on Simone Biles for her decision is easy for us, because we don’t know her. Biles’ decision doesn’t affect our lives too much. However how much do we cheer on others that we know personally when they choose to put their mental health first? Or how much do we help those in our own community who who are losing the battle with their mind?

How often have you condemned a coworker who just takes random time off to be with a child? Do they not understand a project is due soon? Maybe they do. Maybe they also, like Ms. Biles, understand they will work better after they step away. Or maybe it’s the child who really needs the support because they are struggling mentally.

How often do we ignore the homeless in our own community. The woman walking down the sidewalk talking to herself as she collects cans. How much thought do we put into her mental well-being?

I don’t write this to shame, as we are all guilty of not seeing the forrest through the trees. However I ask of you to become more aware, and to have empathy for those around you. To be proactive in asking that friend if they need some time away, or if they need to talk. Ask how that coworker’s children have been coping with the changing world. If mental health is truly a cause you want to see taken more seriously than reach out to a local non-profit that helps the homeless, or helps to counsel children.

We need advocates for mental health. I love the support Simone Biles has received — but let’s not stop that support at sharing a social media post, we can do much more by looking more closely around us.

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