BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore native Michael Phelps speaks out once again about mental health, and his target audience this time around are children who are struggling with anxiety.
The pressure seems more intense now than it’s ever been.
His record in the water is untouched. The greatest of all time with 28 Olympic medals.
But Phelps has fought and conquered another challenge: depression.
“Then finally I got to a point where it was my tipping point, I just blew up,” Phelps said in the documentary.
In a new documentary called “Angst” he’s trying to help children who are struggling with anxiety.
“I got to the point where I understood it was OK to not be OK,” he said.
With the pressures of school, activities and even social media, experts say children as young as six are experiencing symptoms of anxiety.
Eighth graders told WJZ they’re already stressed out.
“Because it’s just like a lot of work. About all of us do sports and we also still try to get a lot of sleep so doing it all in the time frame before going to school the next day is king of hard for us,” one student said.
A pediatrician thinks as many as half of his young patients may be struggling with some form of anxiety.
“It’s a huge problem and actually we’re seeing this in children probably as young as about six or seven, and it’s unfortunate because it does affect many aspects of their lives, not just their home lives but their school lives and the way they interact with each other,” said Dr. Gaurav Kumar with Lifebridge Health.
Like Phelps, parents are trying to reassure children who are under pressure to perform.
“And just have a realistic focus that if you get a C in eighth grade, it’s really going to be OK,” said mother Juliet Fisher.
In the past, Phelps has been open about his struggles with depression. He said he struggled after the 2008 Olympics.