PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Mental health of athletes is coming to the forefront of people’s minds after gold-medal Olympian Simone Biles withdrew from the Tokyo games.
The conversation is now making its way to Central Illinois.
The Titanium Force’s cheer coach and program director in Peoria said focusing on mental health is number one for the squad.
“The biggest thing that I try to teach all these athletes is mental toughness. I use that word a lot because this is a hard sport,” said Laurie Rolinitis.
Rolinitis even puts in alternates if a member needs to take a mental health break.
The cheerleaders have taken notice, and appreciate having an understanding coach and teamto take off some stress.
Avery Kern on the Senior 5 Blackout team at Titanium Force, said, “If you need to take a break, take it. If you can’t go to practice that day, don’t go to practice. It’s really reassuring that we can have those breaks and that they are encouraged when we need them.”
Kyle Boerke, the director of behavioral health for ambulatory services at OSF, said it is important for parents and coaches to be mindful of the level of pressure they’re placing on athletes.
“Some of the most effective treatments I’ve ever done, when it comes to this kind of overwhelming pressure to succeed in sports, is actually having them take a break from the sport,” said Boerke.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health concerns, call the national institute of mental health at 866-615-6464.