Mental health of Olympic athletes is no longer a taboo subject among these elite athletes, thanks in part to those who are willing to speak out about the pressures of competing at the highest level, like gymnast Simone Biles. And so, with the Paris 2024 Olympic Games mere months away, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has been keen to emphasize that it has “raised the bar” on mental health services in sports as a much-needed response. Here’s how they hope to make a difference.

“There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with you to focus on your mental health,” commented Jess Bartley, who is the senior director of psychological services at the USOPC in a media conference held in New York on Monday. Of course, mental health has been a much more open issue in U.S. sports since the Tokyo games held in 2021, when Simone Biles withdrew from a team final and faced accusations of being a ‘quitter’ despite suffering from ‘the twisties,’ a psychological condition that causes gymnasts to be thrown off balance due to a lack of special awareness. “We have just really, really improved, the level of service, the quality of service, that all of these athletes can get when it comes to mental health. And I don’t think we’re done,” added Bartley.

Team USA Spotlights the Mental Health of Olympic Athletes

Bartlet told journalists that there were a number of initiatives that the USOPC would be rolling out, with an emphasis being placed on sleep hygiene. “We’re going to talk about jet lag and how you can travel with us and how to put your sleep hygiene first,” she explained of how they would coach athletes to better look after themselves during intense times of travel and competition. With the Olympic Games set for Los Angeles in 2028, the hope is that Team USA will be firing on all cylinders sooner rather than later.

The idea of improving mental and physical performance through sleep is a seen as a significant plan that is backed up by science, with studies showing that increasing sleep duration is one of the most effective methods of improving physical and cognitive performance during competition. More sleep is a way to get a competitive advantage that no doubt many of us should consider.