Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has spoken candidly about his mental health issues in a recent interview.
On Tuesday, May 22, the 23-time Olympic gold medalist shared about his struggles with depression and anxiety as he announced his new strategic partnership with the online therapy company Talkspace.
Michael Phelps Partners With Talkspace
As part of the partnership with Talkspace, the 32-year-old athlete will promote therapy as a means to improve one's mental health. The company will feature a television campaign in which Phelps will not only share his personal experiences but also raise awareness about mental health.
Moreover, he will encourage people to seek help for their condition despite the social stigma surrounding mental health and talk about the various benefits of Talkspace.
"Throughout my career, I struggled with depression and anxiety at various times, and I found it so difficult to get the help I needed," Phelps said in the press release.
He added that as he dealt with his issues and started talking about them, he felt stronger and when he found out that he could speak to a therapist over text messages, web or video chat, he felt "an amazing feeling of empowerment."
He noted that he wanted to help others suffering from the same mental health problems that he went through and prove to them that help is not only easily available now, but also inexpensive.
"For me, that's way bigger than ever winning gold medals," he said in an interview with the Associated Press. "The chance to potentially save a life, to give that person an opportunity to grow and learn and help someone else, there's nothing better in life."
His Personal Mental Health Struggle
Phelps is the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time. However, despite his unprecedented success as a competitive swimmer, he's been through a fair share of dark moments.
The athlete was first arrested for driving under the influence at the age of 19, shortly after he had bagged six gold medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Four years later, he grabbed headlines again after a photo of him smoking from a marijuana pipe surfaced not long after winning a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games and struggled to motivate himself ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.
However, he hit rock bottom in 2014 when he came out of retirement to compete in a fifth Olympics but was arrested again for a second DUI. In a 2015 interview, Phelps revealed that he was "in a really dark place" after his arrest and also admitted to contemplating suicide.