On Naomi Osaka and Mental Health

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Naomi Osaka tweeted this statement out after her controversy or reluctance on speaking with the media and that’s a big deal.

“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” she wrote in a statement, in part. “Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that sees me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety … I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”

Osaka is the latest celebrity to come out and address her depression. You might wonder, what does this 22 year old, four-time Grand Slam singles champion, and the reigning champion at the US Open and the Australian Open have to be depressed about? She has been able to go places, travel, and earn millions of dollars based on her talent and the worldwide interest in this sport. At the time of this writing, she is worth around $25 million dollars, a substantial portion of earnings come from sponsors and endorsers. What’s creating that depression? That’s not for me to speculate on.

What’s intriguing about this situation is the fact Osaka chose to withdraw from the tour due to a factor that is marginal from a time standpoint but has a high return on investment.

The media matters to her in more ways than one.

The Media Sucks and Players Don’t Always Have The Best Time With The Media

She’s not the first player who has had issues with speaking with the media. Remember Marshawn Lynch, the NFL player? He made it a point to not talk to the media and he got fined. He didn’t like the fine. He came back and talked to the media. Of course, he had fun with it. He had one interview where all he said was “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” Sure enough, it made the news.

This reluctance to speak with media is not an uncommon aspect. The media, in general, is not so intriguing. They don’t always ask the most interesting questions and may ask questions that are “gotchas.” But the media is doing its job of promoting their content, promoting the players, and promoting the sport.

Again, the media matters.

Sporting events are fun because they you can watch the game and then talk about it with your family, friends, and acquaintances. You can talk about the game, what the players wore, what they said, their talent and other aspects. Then you can listen to the analysis and news comments by reporters and talk about that, too. These are all important aspects of sports and that is athletes make millions. Athletes are valuable various parties, from the Leagues they belong to, to the companies that endorse them, to the media and to the fans.

Their media presence and interaction with the media adds value to brands like Nike and the fans that purchase those shoes. Fans get take part in their defeat after the game and their winnings as well. Athletes are recognized for their talent, the more talent they have, the better it is in driving up interest and profits. But the point is that athletes are able to partake in an infrastructure. It is this infrastructure that they add to that helps them provide value and and derive value and significant earnings.

The media is integral in driving further interest, it amplifies the interest that is already there and brings more interest to the whole ecosystem. But Osaka notes that she is an introvert, that she doesn’t want to talk to the media, and withdraws from the tournament because of that factor. That’s a big deal. You are going to stop doing an activity that you love to do at some level, judging by the level of quality and accomplishments, because of another activity (talking to the media) that is about 10% of the process?

It makes you wonder how bad the mental health problem is in the United States.

Mental Health is the Term of the Decade

There was a line recently, in which a character in a show said, before everyone didn’t talk about their problems to a large extent and if they had a problem, it could be perceived as an issue. But these days the opposite is true, if you have a problem, you tell everyone about it and find ways to make sure that the world bends to your will.

As a matter of fact, if you do not have a problem, you are seemingly in the minority and are the odd one out. If you go to a psychiatrist, they will ensure to label you with some sort of issue, give you an acronym for it, and provide the requisite medication to ensure that you are able to cope with that real or perceived issue. That might lead to more sessions and follow up, with more medications.

Celebrities continue to come out and talk about their sadness and depression, from Carmen Diaz, to Prince Harry to Demi Lovato, and others. The aspect of mental health comes at a time when there is an increasing in violence, confusion, and chaos within the world today. Different applications promoted by people like Phelps and others also continue to gain traction. The mental health industry via applications, and others continue to grow at a rapid rate.

Indeed, mental health is important and it plays a role in stability but not everything is a mental health problem, there’s a balance. If you are not comfortable with one item, like speaking in front of a class, that’s something many people share, it still doesn’t mean that is part of your mental health problem and that you should be excused from it. There’s a variety of activities that many people don’t like to do. But they do it anyway, most people may not want to go to work, but they do it anyway. They do it because it’s better than the alternative of contributing or shirking or your obligations.

There’s too much celebration of vulnerability and less on strengths and that’s present in the level of people relying on the government and fractures within the United States.

Life was never easy but humans have adapted and pushed through for centuries.