The world’s top athletes continue to work to break the stigma around mental health. This week, it was NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time league MVP who led the Bucks to the NBA championship in 2021.
But a year before winning the title, Giannis considered retirement. As he told his local paper, he felt incredible pressure – and anxiety – over being watched everywhere he went:
“I feel like a lot of people deal with it, but they’re not willing to talk about it. They’re not willing to improve, because this stigma is behind it. ‘You talk about it, then you’re soft, you’re weak; this is a sport, you’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to fight through everything.’”
Finally, he opened up to his family, and to a professional therapist:
“Somebody helped put me in a place, again, to appreciate all of the things that I have, that comes with being who I am. To be OK with myself. To — no matter what the outcome is of the game — understand that I can’t control that. I can only control my effort. How hard I work. How I make people feel around me. How I try to, hopefully, inspire people from what I do.”
Outward success is no guarantee of perfect mental health. Everyone – even two-time NBA MVPs – can need help.
Each week, ICBA’s Jordan Bateman reflects on what we’ve learned as we participate in ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program. ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is helping more than 90 companies and nearly 10,000 construction professionals better understand mental health. This program is free for all ICBA members – check out icba.ca/wellness for details.