Michael Phelps on efforts to help athletes with mental health issues

Michael Phelps is one of the most successful swimmers in history. With 28 medals, including 23 gold medals, Phelps is the most decorated Olympian. Having hung up his boots in 2016, Phelps continues to inspire millions, but in a different role.

Phelps has often opened up about his struggles in the past. The legendary swimmer has been a vocal advocate for people with mental health issues since his retirement. Having struggled with depression and ADHD himself, the swimmer has also opened up about having suicidal tendencies and his wish to save fellow athletes struggling with similar issues.

Michael Phelps would rather “save a life than win another gold medal”

Michael Phelps had a spectacular career and his accolades in swimming remain unmatched. However, he has had his share of struggles in his personal life and has been vocal about the same.

The Baltimore native spoke to AFP in an interview at the Demain le Sport Convention in Paris when he revealed that he would rather have the chance to save a life than win another medal. Phelps, who leads an even busier life post-retirement, said that he had no complaints and would choose to work for fellow athletes any time of the day.

In the interview, Michael Phelps said:

“I’d rather have the opportunity to save a life than win another gold medal because this is way more important. We have lost way too many Olympic athletes to suicide. I don’t want to lose any more of my Olympic family members.”

He went on to shed light on his darkest days. Phelps addressed having suicidal tendencies in the past and how it changed his mindset to help others.

He added:

“Competing was one of my favorite things. I was a shark and smelt blood in the water and kept going… I went through a period where I didn’t want to be alive.”

Phelps went on to state that people typically shy away from speaking about their mental health issues. The Baltimore Bullet said that he wished to change this thought process and become an advocate for others.

It is noteworthy that the legendary Olympian has become a role model for people working to bring athletes’ mental health problems to the forefront.

Michael Phelps’ struggles with mental health issues

Michael Phelps has often spoken about his emotions and his struggles with inner demons. The legendary swimmer opened up about the same while speaking on Outside The Lines in 2020. Addressing his own struggles with mental health issues, Phelps said that he considered taking his own life.

He shared:

“I mean, for a moment, I thought it was going to be the end of my life. Literally! Just because it was like, you know, probably, just be better without me. People wouldn’t have to deal with the BS that I give them or the crap I put them through.”

Furthermore, the swimmer added how he locked himself up and ate enormous amounts of food during his “darkest days”.

He added:

“I didn’t really leave my room. Didn’t eat. Didn’t really sleep. I just figured the best thing to do was end my life.”

However, he sought the help that he needed and now wishes to lend a helping hand to people in similar situations.

Edited by Adelle Fernandes