Top tennis athlete, Naomi Osaka, drew headlines when she refused to sit down at a press conference to answer questions by reporters.
As a result she was fined $15,000 by the French Open Tournament Referee. Speculation began immediately as to why she was refusing to follow this protocol of the tournament.
As mental health professional, it appeared likely to me that she was struggling with some mental health challenges that were too overwhelming to manage in front of lights, cameras and lots of focused questions. Later, Naomi came out publicly and said this was indeed the case.
Anxiety and depression can make tasks that were once manageable or at least tolerable, much less so during heightened emotional states. Naomi talks about using distraction tools in order for her to perform at her best and keep her mind engaged. Distraction tools can be very effective in the short term to help a person get through challenging emotional situations. In the long term, it is more ideal to seek out support in order to get to the root of the struggle and help to heal it from the place it originates, This often requires a professional who can support someone in understanding the old stories that were activated that have created the current challenge as well as engage in tools that will help sooth the nervous system when it becomes activated.
Anxiety and Depression are challenging experiences that even high profile people struggle with.
Showing compassion to people who are struggling is a much more appropriate and empathetic response rather than slapping a fine on them for not showing up as you expected.
It is a blessing that Naomi had the courage to come forward and help us all shine a light on the challenges many face when dealing with mental health challenges.