About HBO Sports Documentary, “The Weight of Gold”
Michael Phelps is one of the most recognized – and decorated – Olympians in modern history. He also narrated and produced an HBO sports documentary called “The Weight of Gold,” which outlines how much Olympic athletes struggle with depression and other mental illnesses.
According to the documentary, many people are scared to ask for help because coaches worry mental health conditions will interfere with their athletic performance. In reality, this is far from the truth. Holistic healthcare helps athletes succeed, and more importantly, prevents suicides, which the Olympic community has seen far too many of.
“I can’t see any more suicides.”
Phelps himself suffered from suicidal thoughts after he was caught driving under the influence in Baltimore in 2014. It was during this time that he discovered therapy and overcame years of “stuffing down” feelings of emptiness and vulnerability. Phelps also felt a lack of confidence about anything other than winning races.
One of Phelp’s colleagues, an Olympic bobsledder who tragically died from suicide, explained what struggling with mental health is like for athletes:
“The metaphor I like to use is when it comes to the spectrum of sports performance, we think the top is hitting a grand slam to win the game and the bottom is striking out, when in fact the actual bottom is not wanting to be alive.”
Fortunately, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has expressed a willingness to improve access to mental healthcare. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go.
We hope Phelps’ story and those of other athletes help you feel less alone.
Reminder: Help Is Available
Whether you are an athlete, an artist, a student, or a professional, Tapestry has a program that works for you. We help individuals from all walks of life cope with mental health conditions and achieve holistic wellbeing.