Phelps talks anxiety in documentary
A new documentary about anxiety argues that everyone to some extent suffers from stress, nerves and social fear. And, to make their point, the filmmakers have enlisted as Exhibit A the most decorated Olympian in history.
Michael Phelps appears in Angst to share his story of being bullied and depressed, leading to severe anxiety. The swimmer, winner of 28 Olympic medals, would look in the mirror and not like what he saw.
“Once I opened up about that and things that I had kept inside of me for so many years, I then found that life was a lot easier. I got to the point where I understood that it’s OK to not be OK,” he says in the film.
Angst, an Indieflix film designed to be screened at schools and community centres, features candid interviews with children and young adults discussing their anxiety, advice from mental health experts, and resources and tools. Phelps is like a muscular explanation mark for what the filmmakers wanted to demonstrate — that even world champions can feel low.
“I’m grateful because my mission with this film is to help make the world a better place and I believe he is (such an) additive on that level,” said Scilla Andreen, CEO and co-founder of Indieflix.
“If we can introduce prevention, self-care and well-being to our children — even in the pre-k and kindergarten years — they can have a completely different life.”
Andreen hopes the film will reach more than three million people around the world with 25,000 community and school screenings. Angst was filmed in the U.S. and United Kingdom and is appropriate for children starting at age 10.
“Anxiety is totally treatable,” she said. “It can be a precursor to so many things that can then lead to addiction, homelessness, dropping out of school and a host of other mental health challenges.”
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health challenge in the U.S., impacting 54 per cent of females and 46 per cent of males, with age seven being the median age of onset, according to the World Health Organization. The American College Health Association has found that undergraduates reporting “overwhelming anxiety” jumped to 62 per cent in 2016 from 50 per cent in 2011.
“Talking about it is the most effective thing you can do and, of course, the last thing you want to do,” said Andreen.
In addition to talking, writing about your feelings or connecting to music can help.
“Anything that helps you to take a break from the anxiety and move the energy to the front of the brain,” Andreen said.
Talking about it is the most effective thing you can do and, of course, the last thing you want to do. scilla Andreen
Michael Phelps, pictured with his wife Nicole and son Boomer, says he suffered from crippling anxiety.