Simone Biles Is Awarded the Moffic Mental Health Medal


And the winner is…




What is the Moffic Mental Health Medal, you may be wondering? Perhaps some remember the Moffic Award for Ethical Practice in Managed Behavioral Health Care, bestowed by my wife and I for many years in conjunction with the American Association of Community Psychiatrists, and yearly summarized in articles for Psychiatric Times. But that was a formal competition with nominations; this is a spur-of-the-moment award decided by me as I sat down to write a column for today. Why?

You, of course, remember her. She had to drop out of the Tokyo Olympics due to a self-diagnosed case of the “twisties.” Though not in DSM-5, it is at its admitted basis a “case of the nerves,” resulting in uncertainty of where one’s body is in space during a performance. At Tokyo, she was subject to very high expectations, expected to be the support to her teammates, and lonelier due to the pandemic preventing family from attending. Now, she is married, too.

She just made a triumphant return to gymnastics, not knowing for a time if she would do so. She dominated the US Classics without having any “twisties,” and is planning to try out for the next Olympics.

What gives her more confidence to succeed again? As reported by Emily Giambalvo in The Washington Post article, “With ‘obvious’ motivation, Simone Bias sets her sights on a third Olympics,” she has said that she sees a therapist weekly. She has learned how to manage the pressure of being the best and famous, and can ignore calls of being a “quitter.”

She is quite the model for mental health, at least publicly, is she not? She has made the best use of her special skills, rebounded from failure with resilience, and appreciates the value of psychotherapy for self-knowledge. What psychiatrist could ask for anything more?

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

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