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'Incredibly courageous': Mental health experts, advocates praise Simone Biles for prioritizing mental health

With her announcement Tuesday, Simone Biles launched a conversation that mental health experts say is necessary.

When Achea Redd learned the news Tuesday morning of Simone Biles not competing in the Olympic team event, as a fan she says she felt incredibly bummed. However as an advocate for mental health -- she said she understood.

"Because I went through it. It's a daily journey,” said Redd. "You never really fully recover, you know you're always like recovering."

Recovering and overcoming her own dark place, and now advocating for others. It's her life's work.

“Being the person of color, and a woman of color at that, there is like this perception that we are Teflon. And that we are supposed to have this strong persona. It's given to us almost as a birthright to be honest with you that is how we are reared,” she said.

While she doesn't know Simone Biles personally, she can relate on a deeper level.

“The world will not be kind to you. You don't have time to cry, you just have to show up and do what you gotta do and prove that you deserve to be in the room,” she said. “So then you add on to that the pressure. I am married to a professional athlete. The pressure of being an athlete. The pressure of performing when you're not at your best."

With her announcement Tuesday, Simone Biles launched a conversation that mental health experts say is necessary. Because more people are suffering than we know.

"I see this every day in the emergency department people coming in crisis and they're embarrassed, feeling ashamed. Not wanting to talk about it with anyone,” said Megan Schabbing, psychiatrist and system medical director OhioHealth.

But what experts say is the best thing to do is what Biles did; make that decision to prioritize your mental health.

“This is incredibly courageous on her part,” said Dr. Kenneth Yeager, director of the STAR program at the department of psychiatry, The Ohio State University. “She is making a decision to take care of herself."

Local health experts add that the number of people experiencing challenges with mental health is growing -- especially now amid the pandemic

The best place to start the conversation is with your primary care doctor or a mental health professional.