SYDNEY • Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, yesterday joined the board of an Australian mental health company, a subject close to his heart after his struggles with depression and substance abuse.
The American, who won 28 Olympic medals, quit swimming last year and he said joining Medibio met his aim to raise awareness of mental health problems.
"I personally suffered from mental health challenges from my teenage years on, and only fairly recently - after reaching a point of desperation - did I acquire the understanding, treatment, and support I needed," he said.
"For me, self-awareness, from a mental health standpoint, is empowerment."
Phelps, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when he was nine, is not the only swimming great to suffer mental problems.
Australia's Ian Thorpe has also struggled with depression, and received treatment in 2014 after being found disoriented on a Sydney street.
Fellow Australian Grant Hackett also sought help this year - including from Phelps - after his arrest following a family incident, the latest in a series of incidents.
"I want to help others who are dealing with these challenges and make the process for them to take action easier and more understandable," Phelps said.
Five-time Olympic gold medallist Missy Franklin - who is recuperating after operations on her shoulders - said that the mental pressures of competition can be immense, but she will find a safeguard by "swimming only for herself" when she returns to the pool.
"When I return competitively it's going to be for me and no one else," Franklin said.
"It's hard when you get to a certain level because other people start putting their goals and aspirations on you. But when it's time I'll sit down and go over what I want to accomplish."
In March, she announced that she had separate surgeries on her shoulders due to bursitis and would be taking a break.
The 22-year-old is back in training, but has not targeted a return date ahead of the world championships in Budapest next month.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS