Michael Phelps On Depression And The Importance Of Seeking Support

"There are so many people who struggle from very similar things that I go through."

With 28 medals to his name from individual and team events, Michael Phelps is known as being the most decorated Olympian. He's also known for speaking out about his mental health struggles, and for encouraging others to get the help they need.

The former Olympian continued to raise awareness on the subject in a recent interview with TODAY.


The swimmer got candid about his battle with depression, saying there are times he'll "have bad weeks, or days, and go into a depression state." He has previously been frank about having suicidal thoughts around the 2012 Olympics, and about struggling with his mental health following his second D.U.I. arrest in 2014.

In the TODAY interview, he went on to address the idea that athletes are supposed to power through things. "Being an athlete, you're supposed to be strong and be able to push through anything. My struggles carried on through my career and I hid them well." But things were still going on internally. He eventually found a way to deal with his mental health, and he is sharing his experiences to help others.

"There are so many people who struggle from [sic] very similar things that I go through and still go through ... I'm addressing these issues that I have."

He encouraged others, especially youth who are struggling, to seek help and talk about their struggles.

"Opening up about it and taking the stigma away is something that's so important, especially with kids."

Phelps points out the shocking statistics that 1 in 5 kids from 13 and up will have a mental health illness. That figure rises to 75 percent by the age of 24.

The gold medal Olympian credits therapy for helping him maintain his mental health. This includes the use of TalkSpace, an online and mobile therapy company featuring licensed therapists for users. Phelps is a shareholder and advisory board member for the company and reveals he's able to chat with a therapist 24/7 using the service. He says that in the digital age this gives other people going through similar issues access to assistance whenever they need. Additionally, he points out that the virtual therapy means people don't have to miss work, spending time with their families or other commitments to seek help.

If you or a loved one is in a crisis, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to speak with a skilled, trained counselor who is ready to listen to you.


Cover image via  Petr Toman I Shutterstock


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.