Mental Health Month

Michael Phelps On Growing Up With ADHD And The Importance Of Seeking Help

"I am thankful that I am how I am."

May is Mental Health Month. Throughout the month we will bring you stories about mental health and the importance of breaking surrounding stigmas, as well as highlighting those who live with related conditions and are advocating awareness.

There are over 17 million children in the United States who have had, or are living with, a mental health disorder. Stigmas surrounding these conditions often deter people from speaking up and/or seeking help however. This is why Child Mind Institute — a national non-profit aiming to help families and kids living with mental health conditions — has partnered with 31 celebrities for their My Younger Self campaign.

The campaign is helping to spread awareness about mental health by releasing a video every day in May featuring a celebrity offering advice to their younger selves about "growing up with a mental health or learning disorder."

Emma Stone helped launch the campaign. And Jesse Eisenberg and Carrie Fisher's brother, Todd Fisher, have also contributed videos.

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In the newest video posted May 9, Michael Phelps opens up about growing up with ADHD.

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a neuro-behavioral condition. The condition makes it difficult for people to concentrate and/or control impulsive behavior. It is a disorder that is three times likelier to be diagnosed in males and it's commonly diagnosed in kids. Contrary to what some think, it's not something people necessarily "grow out of" and symptoms can persist throughout a person's lifetime

In the video, the former Olympic swimmer explains how his ADHD impacted his life growing up. Phelps explains it was difficult to sit still and he was "constantly bouncing off the walls." He also reveals how a teacher told him "he would never amount to anything" and they treated him differently than other students.

Despite the struggle, Phelps states that he is actually happy it happened. "It was a challenge and it was a struggle, but for me it was something I'm thankful happened," he explained. 

"And I’m thankful that I am how I am. I look at myself every day and I’m so proud and so happy of who I am and who I’ve been able to become."

As for the advice he would give his younger self, the retired swimmer and new dad said, "If I could go back in time and I could tell my younger self something, I would tell him to believe what's in his heart and never give up."

Phelps also talks about the importance of seeking help.

"I think the biggest thing for me, once I found that it was OK to talk to somebody and seek help, I think that's something that has changed my life forever. And now I'm able to live my life to the fullest," he stated.

With more celebrities and prominent figures like Phelps speaking out about these mental health issues, it will hopefully encourage those struggling to know it's OK to speak up and get assistance.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, there are a number of resources available to provide support. Check them out here.

Cover image via Everett Collection I Shutterstock

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