Life is hard but that doesn’t mean you need to do it alone. Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day and the occasion serves as a reminder that everyone around the world deserves to receive care and support for mental health issues as much as for physical ailments. Seeking this help should never be seen as a sign of weakness and should be encouraged. No one should suffer in silence.
Take some of our past and present SI Swim models like Tanaye White, Hunter McGrady, Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and more who have been vulnerable with their own mental health experiences in the hopes that they can help someone else with their own pain. The bravery that comes from sharing only opens the doors to healing and dealing with whatever it is you are facing. Keep reading to see why these women inspire us today and every day.
The tennis great, who recently retired in what she termed “evolving away” from the sport, continually works on her mental fitness and understands how important boundaries are in her life. Williams has been outspoken about her depression and anxiety and knows that putting herself first is imperative so that she can be the best for those that need her the most like her daughter Olympia.
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With the whole world watching, the gold-medal-winning gymnast chose her well-being at the Tokyo Olympics when she bowed out of the all-around competition struggling with twisties, a mental block which causes athletes to lose spatial awareness while performing in the air. (Gymnasts with the condition lose control of their bodies and open themselves up to potential injury.) “We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we’re human, too,” Biles said. “We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”
The 2022 SI Swim Search winner noticed her mental health was suffering during the pandemic due to social media, so she created Herd, a safe space online where she encourages women and nonbinary people to be themselves. “I would love to show young women that being authentically who you are, letting your inner beauty shine and letting go of what other people think has the power to change your life,” she shared.
Only in her 20s, the tennis star has learned that she must put her mental health first, which is why she has withdrawn from a number of major tournaments. “The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” she shared on Instagram. She credits journaling and speaking out with helping her and in turn helping others.
The Feel Good Babe founder advocates for women to do exactly that. Outspoken about her own depression and anxiety, White’s full transparency has made her a pillar in the community. “I want to help end generational curses that usually stem from unaddressed mental health challenges,” she said. “The more we have these tough conversations, the quicker we can heal and become our best selves.”
The Dancing with Myself host has learned over time that loving and accepting herself is the way to happiness. “You don’t have to love everything that you are doing, but love who you are inside and grow together and literally talk to yourself,” the 2019 SI Swimsuit cover model said. “Have that inner dialogue, look at yourself in the mirror, write it down, go through all of these things that you are processing in your mind all the time.”
Megan Thee Stallion
The rapper and former SI Swimsuit cover star wants to make it clear that “Bad Bitches Have Bad Days Too” through her new mental health website by that name. The platform, which links to free therapy organizations, suicide hotlines and substance abuse sites, provides support for anyone suffering, especially Black men and women and those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Therapy helped McGrady with her anxiety and depression, helping her to embrace her body. “Every agency I was going into, they kept telling me, ‘You have to lose weight. You can’t live your dream unless you look different than you are now,” she has shared about when she first started modeling. “I started to get the help that I needed. I started to look inward. I started to find ways to think differently about myself, because I didn’t want that feeling.” Today, the soon-to-be mom-of-two is an advocate for body inclusivity and is not ashamed of the word plus-size because she knows her body is beautiful.
The 2022 SI Swimsuit rookie focuses much of her attention on the LGBTQ+ community’s well-being to make sure that no one feels alone when either coming out or being their true selves. “Something that I struggled a lot with coming out was thinking that I was the only person that was going through what I was going through,” said Ponton, who works with The Trevor Project and GLAAD. “And then suddenly you are entered into this community where there are thousands of people who feel the same exact way that you do.”
The WNBA all-star and players association president has brought the conversation around mental health to center court by discussing her own Nigerian-American upbringing. Growing up, many feelings had to be pushed down until she and her sisters realized that was the opposite of how to handle them. “You have to learn how to set boundaries on what comes at you from the outside, but also you have to set boundaries on yourself,” she said. “We have vices that will keep us up at night, and you have to know when to stop yourself because if you over-consume, you won’t be able to move. That’s the best way that I could describe how I really tackle my mental health is ensuring that.”
The 10-time SI Swimsuit veteran works hard at staying grounded in a fast-paced industry. By having a healthy lifestyle that includes clean eating and physical activity, she has been able to keep her mental well-being in check. During a YouTube series with mental health expert Megan Gallagher, the two had candid discussions surrounding anxiety and everyday struggles.