Rebecca Busanich, PhD, an associate professor of exercise and sport studies at St. Catherine University, was quoted in a Healthline story this week as the publication explored the stigma placed on mental health conditions — especially in the world of elite sports.
Citing the example set by Simone Biles and her public acknowledgment of the mental health issues connected to the pressures to competing under international scrutiny, Busanich says, “Perhaps this leads to some important dinnertime conversations across the country this week, where people finally open up and become vulnerable about their own experiences.”
Busanich is committed through her teaching, research and service to enhancing the health and well-being of others. Her research explores the social and cultural narratives around physical activity, eating and the body. She translates her findings to promote healthy/positive eating and physical activity experiences, along with exercise adherence, for underrepresented populations. Busanich’s work helps bridge the gaps between the fields of exercise/sport psychology, cultural studies, public health, and health promotion.
Biles, who withdrew from the women's team final and other individual events to focus on her mental health after experiencing the "twisties," a dangerous disconnect between the mind and body that causes gymnasts to become disoriented in the air during twisting skills. She returned to the competition after one week, and earned a bronze medal on the balance beam in her final competitive category.
It’s another step forward in reframing mental health as a disorder on parity with any other disorder found in the human body. As Busanich says in the story, “All the fears and stigmas surrounding mental health will fade away as we realize that every single one of us, as human beings, has experienced negative mental health at least once in our lives — in the same way that we have all been sick, or experienced injury, at different times across our life.”