Michael Phelps, the swimmer raised in Rodgers Forge and winner of more gold medals than any Olympian, always wanted to make a difference outside of the pool.
His efforts have included increasing awareness about swimming in general, pool safety and doping in the sport, but more recently he has talked about dealing with his own mental health issues and helping others recognize theirs.
Today he was appointed to the board of directors of Medibio, an Australian medical technology company that has developed a test to assist in the diagnosis of depression, chronic stress and other mental health disorders.
“I have personally experienced Medibio’s technology and believe it can help make a profound impact in diagnosing mental health and empowering people to seek the help and support they may need,” Phelps said in the company's news release. “In sports, there is so much focus on the physical aspects of performance, and athletes are analyzed from head to toe. But for many athletes, mental health has not been a topic of focus, and the data analysis aspect of it has been missing up until now."
Medibio managing director and CEO Jack Cosentino said the company was "thrilled" to have Phelps join its board.
“His lifelong dedication to excellence in the pool, his advocacy for mental health, and his understanding of data-driven solutions will provide a great addition to our board," Cosentino said in the release. "Michael’s significant public profile will raise substantial awareness of mental health challenges and the real, tangible solutions that Medibio’s diagnostics can provide.”
Phelps was recently named the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) honorary chairperson of National Mental Health Awareness Day 2017 for his mental health advocacy. Along with Allison Schmitt, he also recieved the organization's Special Recognition Award.
"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, which has truly changed my life," Phelps said. "I want to help others who are dealing with these challenges and make the process for them to take action easier and more understandable.”