CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Olympian Allison Schmitt is once again opening up to talk about her mental health in the hopes that it will help others do the same.
Schmitt’s resume speaks for itself. She’s only the seventh American swimmer to make four Olympic teams. She has 10 Olympic medals and is the 2012 gold medalist in the 200 freestyle.
In the Tokyo Games, Schmitt medaled twice in relays, but it wasn’t the result she had hoped for. She’s remained vocal about her mental health struggles, using social media to reach as many people as possible.
“I think I use my platform to spread positivity so everyone knows we can be different,” Schmitt said. “We just have to support each other and spread kindness.”
Schmitt is back in Canton Township to enjoy some down time with family. She admits it’s been tough following the Tokyo Games.
“For my own mental health, I’m taking time to reflect, appreciate that even if I hadn’t hit my goals, I still see the successes,” Schmitt said. “I’m grateful I’m sitting here today.”
As a fierce competitor, Schmitt said she always felt down after the Olympic Games, but this time, it’s different. This time, there’s a big shift ahead into the unknown and a new career.
“From the outside, it looks like I have all the success,” Schmitt said. “I’ve reached my dreams, nothing else. But to me, personally, inside I have a different feeling of not being satisfied and not accomplishing those dreams. But (I have to) get back up and see what’s next.”
Why talk about this now? Schmitt is an advocate for destigmatizing mental health struggles. She supports getting help when someone knows they need it. In fact, she’s completing a master’s degree in social work.
Schmitt said it’s OK to not be OK. She said people should do things that allow them to de-stress. For her, that includes working out and reading.
She hopes having athletes such as herself talk about this will make it a safe space for everyone to talk about mental health, because everyone goes through struggles.
“I hope it can encourage someone else to be vulnerable, reach out, share true feelings and not hide,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt said the next step in the mental health conversation is the accessibility and availability of resources. She hopes to somehow work to make therapy more affordable for everyone.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought increased mental health struggles across the country. Local 4′s Devin Scillian and Kimberly Gill will host an hour-long special at 10 p.m. Tuesday on mental health.