BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Michael Phelps said his Olympic medals do not define who he is, and he’s been open about how his Olympic career has impacted his mental health.
Now, he’s being recognized for that honesty with an award.
Since he’s collected 28 Olympic medals, including 23 Gold, Phelps has been dedicated to helping people with mental health struggles.
“For me, being able to save one, five, ten, a thousand, a million lives is hands down better than winning a Gold medal. I’d give them all back to save as many people as I possibly could,” Phelps said.
He has been open and honest about his struggle with depression, saying therapy saved his life and encouraged others to reach out for help.
“As an athlete, for me personally, I felt like I couldn’t stand up and talk about it. Because it showed that I was weak. And that’s really why I never said anything for a long time. Until I got to that point that I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I decided something had to be done. And I had to take that step to find the help I needed to get better,” Phelps said.
In Boston on Tuesday, he received the Morton E. Ruderman award for inclusion. Phelps was praised for using his fame and status to remove the stigma surrounding mental health.
“We were traveling on international teams. We had doctors that would help our physical well-being. But they didn’t care about our mental well-being. That was something that was wrong. And honestly, we- and other Olympians- struggle with depression. Especially coming out of Olympic games. And that’s something that’s gotta change,” Phelps said.