USA Gymnastics to cover mental health visits

(NEW YORK) — USA Gymnastics is adding additional mental health services for athletes and coaches as part of its new athlete and wellness program, the organization announced Monday.

Athletes will receive up to eight mental health visits a year up to $125 per visit, while coaches are eligible for up to four visits per year, according to USA Gymnastics.

“Athlete health and wellness is at the core of our value system, and the importance of mental health has been paramount not just for athletes, but for everyone in recent years,” USA Gymnastics CEO Li Li Leung said in a statement.

“Being able to fund services that athletes and their coaches can receive in their hometowns, by their preferred providers, is essential for wellbeing and something we have always wanted to do. We thank GK for providing the additional funding that has enabled us to make this program a reality,” Leung said.

Both coaches and athletes will also be able to choose a licensed therapist in sports psychology or mental health.

USA Gymnastics coincided its announcement with this year’s World Mental Health Day.

Over half of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives and one in five Americans will experience a mental illness each year, based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization, 15% of working-age adults live with mental illness around the world.

Last year, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles withdrew from some competitions at the Tokyo Olympics “to focus on her mental health,” USA Gymnastics announced at the time.

Biles has also had a difficult history with the sport of gymnastics.

She was one of dozens of gymnasts who spoke out about the rampant sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced in 2018 to up to 175 years in prison.

In June, Nassar’s victims sued the FBI for $1 billion over its handling of Nassar’s sexual abuse case.

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