KC Chiefs prioritize mental health as Simone Biles withdraws from Olympic all-around

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When it comes to pressure and the expectation of success, the Chiefs can relate to the stories of Olympians Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka.

Biles, the world’s greatest gymnast, has withdrawn from the all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health. This occurred Wednesday, a day after she ended her participation in the team competition after one attempt on the vault for Team USA.

Mental health was also cited as the reason for Osaka’s hiatus from her tennis career. She lit the Olympic cauldron but made an early exit in the tournament while competing for Japan.

Those two athletes have raised awareness and advanced the conversation about mental health for athletes, especially those involved in high-stress competition.

The Chiefs, who have appeared in each of the last two Super Bowls, have been paying attention.

“Most people don’t understand the pressure,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said when asked about the important of mental health. “You pray for those people and pray for the people around them hoping they can continue to get support.

“I’m proud of (Biles). I’m proud of Naomi. I’m proud of these women for stepping up, taking the initiative to put their mental health first. That’s the most important thing for an athlete.”

Reid said the Chiefs watched an NFL-produced film about mental health on Tuesday.

“The league does a great job talking about that with us,” Reid said. “Nobody is too big to step up say, ‘I’ve got a problem.’ We’ve all got them. My hat goes off to that young lady (Biles). She’s a beast. A stud. She’ll be all better for it, when it’s all said and done.”

Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt also credited the NFL for its role in understanding the importance of mental well-being.

“That’s been a real focus of the league over the five to 10 years, and in fact, it led to a requirement that teams have the appropriate resources,” Hunt said. “It is something we’re more cognizant of as an organization than we were 10 or 20 years ago.”

Two years ago, the Chiefs hired Dr. Shaun Tyrance to serve as the organization’s first in-house clinician and the second in the NFL. Tyrance had been a mental health counselor and worked with athletes in several sports, as well as business executives.

In a 2019 interview with Chiefs.com, Tyrance said his job extends beyond the players — to their families and “anybody that’s in their circle.”

“My job is to support them with any challenges, any issues or anything that they face on and off the field,” Tyrance said. ”I can’t be a face that they only go to when something is wrong — that’s not how I work. I’m always around and guys are in my office all the time, even when times are good. That’s a big thing for me.”

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