Simone Biles’ Decision To Put Mental Health First Is Teaching Moment For Utah Teens, Therapists Say

Jul 29, 2021, 10:04 AM | Updated: 10:07 am
Simone Biles of Team United States looks on during the Women's Team Final on day four of the Tokyo ...
Simone Biles of Team United States looks on during the Women's Team Final on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — After withdrawing from the women’s gymnastics team final and individual all-around final at the Tokyo Olympics because of mental health concerns, Simone Biles has received both public praise and harsh criticism.

It’s a decision no athlete at the height of her sport would want to have to make.

But what does her decision mean for the thousands of Utah teenagers with mental health challenges?

A local expert said it’s an opportunity to change the way we think about mental health.

“We’re talking about a serious issue that affects the brain chemistry that no one is choosing to have,” said Jess Holzbauer, a licensed clinical social worker with Huntsman Mental Health Institute.

Downplaying a mental health crisis is a mistake, she said. “You can see a broken bone,” she said. “You can’t see a brain not working.”

Jess Holzbauer, a licensed clinical social worker with Huntsman Mental Health Institute. (KSL TV)

Holzbauer treats teenagers at Huntsman’s adolescent day treatment program and said the stigma of mental health can lead to guilt and shame, and resistance to seeking treatment. It can be even tougher in minority communities.

“We put a lot of demands on young people, to engage in athletic pursuits, to do well in school, to be good members of the community, and I think it’s a balance,” Holzbauer said.

It’s a message therapists hope Utah teenagers will hear loud and clear: Mental health is just as important as physical health. It’s important to take a step back and get help when you need to. “Which is very hard to do, and I think it takes a village,” Holzbauer said. “I think it takes family members. I think it takes role models at school to be able to give permission to do that.”

Experts encouraged parents to use Biles’ decision as a teaching moment. “There is a point where when our mental health needs are so great we need to stop, pause, evaluate and take care of ourselves,” Holzbauer said.

Sending a message to teenagers on the world stage that there’s no shame in seeking help.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Healthy Mind Matters

Tamara Vaifanua

Salt Lake Co. offers workshop for teens struggling with body image

For the first time, Salt Lake County Youth Services is offering a free workshop for teens who struggle with body image issues.
11 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Matt Rascon

KSL+ One man’s heart-shaped mission to prevent suicide

Mental health challenges continue across the state. This week, the story of one man’s mission to prevent suicide with reminders that people matter.
18 days ago
Ayanna Likens

You can call or text new mental health resource (988)

The nation’s newest mental health resource isn’t just a phone call service – you can text it, too.
1 month ago
The number for the national suicide prevention hotline, 988....
Ayanna Likens

Utah’s connection to a national 3-digit suicide prevention hotline

It will soon be easier than ever to connect with mental health professionals across the country during a crisis as the three-digit phone number, 988, launches this Saturday.
1 month ago
Posters at the Department of Health and Human Services offers advice on preventing and getting over...
Jed Boal

How community postvention tool kit helps communities after a suicide

How our communities respond after a suicide death matters and that's why the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition created an online tool kit to help.
1 month ago
LGBTQ teens at an Encircle activity....
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Parents’ support key to mental health among LGBTQ+ youth, experts say

Nearly 20 percent of adults in the U.S. live with a mental health condition. In the LGBTQ+ community, that number is three times higher. Experts say family support is crucial to an adolescents’ mental health.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Simone Biles’ Decision To Put Mental Health First Is Teaching Moment For Utah Teens, Therapists Say