• Greg Cheney, PhD, LMFT

Michael Phelps Shares Tools to Improve Mental Health

Updated: Oct 21

Michael Phelps is arguably the greatest competitive swimmer of all time. His success on the international stage of swimming is known worldwide. He is a household name and an Olympian that we all cheered for over several Olympic Games.

Michael Phelps shares tools to improve mental health

Michael Phelps is also very vocal about his mental health struggles over the years. He is a strong advocate for mental health and is working to address the stigma of getting help. He recently discussed this passion on the Whoop Podcast. He discussed a variety of topics. The importance of taking care of mental health struggles stood out to me above all the rest.


Here are Michael Phelps’ mains points on mental health. They also connect to our mission of honoring your valiant steps toward renewal here at Valiant Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling.


When loneliness strikes in depression rises.


Michael Phelps highlighted a huge struggle we are currently facing in society today. He said, “During the pandemic loneliness has struck in. When loneliness strikes in depression rises.” Depression rises when we experience isolation and disconnection in our most important relationships. Isolation and disconnection can surface in a variety of struggles in life. Struggles can surface in the relationship with our partner or when battling a disease like cancer.


The antidote to this is connection in authentic relationships. That sentence is so easy to write, but so difficult for many to experience in everyday life. We understand shifting how we experience relationships is difficult. Find someone you trust. Find someone who is a safe person to share with. Find someone who will journey with you in this shift. Family members, your spouse, close friend, or a therapist are all great options. This leads into want Michael Phelps emphasized about the importance of communication.


Communicate to improve your mental health.


Michael Phelps also highlighted how communication is essential when experiencing mental health struggles. “I would encourage everyone just to communicate. Get stuff out in the open. The more we carry this stuff along it just puts more weight and stress on us. We just start hunching over.”


Communication is key when we find that person who is safe to share with. Communication helps to unload the burdens that weigh heavy throughout every day. Phelps shared his experience of what it was like to open up and communicate his struggles, “Ever since I’ve opened up and talked about it . . . I feel like I’m carrying less, taking weights out of my backpack, and feeling like my shoulders are higher . . .. I never want to go back to feeling like the gorilla is on my back everywhere I go.” What a wonderful description of his experience. He trusted someone to communicate his struggles with his mental health.


Phelps also shared about what it was like to try to keep it all in. He shared how this led to checking himself into rehab. He talked about how mental health struggles cannot be hidden long-term. “Mental health creeps up at any given time. No matter if it’s the Olympics or your birthday. . .. Unless you’re taking care of it it’s just going to keep coming up.”


Phelps’ encouragement is for everyone to take care of their mental health. Mental health struggles will not go away without dealing with them. “To talk about struggles like this is so freeing . . . for so many years we’ve all wanted to shove things under the rug. Now the Band-Aid is off. The rug is out. People are ready to talk about it. People are ready to make change.” Are you ready to make change?


Vulnerability is key to improving mental health.


Phelps described how vulnerability is key to taking steps to combat loneliness. Communication is key. Communicating vulnerability with a trustworthy person improves depression. He also stated how this is difficult. Phelps acknowledged that “to show vulnerability is scary for a lot of people.” So fascinating to hear that someone who competed on the world’s stage can find vulnerability difficult. It is difficult for all of us.


Vulnerability is acknowledging there is a mental health struggle, and that stuggle needs to be addressed. Vulnerability is reaching out to someone who is trustworthy. This is the first valiant step toward renewal. Vulnerability is communicating struggles that are swept under the rug.


The reward for vulnerability, as Phelps pointed out, is “carrying less, taking weights out of my backpack, and feeling like my shoulders are higher.” Imagine what that would feel like to experience feeling like this!


Couples therapy and marriage counseling can improve mental health.


Michael Phelps’ main points on mental health also connect with how couples therapy and marriage counseling can improve mental health. The benefits he described are also benefits of working with a couples therapist and marriage counselor.


Phelps pointed out that “when loneliness strikes in depression rises.” This is also true in relationships. Unfortunately, many find themselves lonely in their most important relationships. Couples describe how they feel like “ships passing in the night” in their relationship. They also describe how they feel more like roommates than lovers. Experiencing a relationship in this way can lead to depression. Experiencing a connected and fulfilling relationship can combat loneliness and depression.


Couples therapy and marriage counseling improves communication and vulnerability.


Vulnerability in the context of your most important relationship also improves relationships. This type of communication results in similar results as Phelps reported. He stated he felt like he was carrying less and felt like his shoulders were higher. After connected and vulnerable encounters in marriage counseling couples report something similar. They often talk about how a weight lifed off their shoulders, felt lighter, and felt less stressed.


Online therapy improves mental health.


Isolation is also a reason we provide online therapy. Online therapy reduces the barriers to finding a couples therapist and marriage counselor. Online therapy is also a powerful tool that Michael Phelps used to improve his mental health. Phelps described how access to online therapy was, and continues to be, one of the key factors that helps to improve his mental health. Online therapy is also an option for couples therapy and marriage counseling.



Services at Valiant Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling

Our desire is you get the help you need and deserve to improve your mental health and your most important relationships. If we can help, we would be honored to be a part of this journey with you.


We offer a variety of services in our Fuquay Varina counseling clinic. Mental health services we provide at Valiant Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling include couples & marriage counseling, online therapy, emotionally focused therapy, couples intensives, Christian marriage counseling, and couples workshops.

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