Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price recently received an outpouring of support for seeking mental health assistance. That has left many on Twitter questioning why Naomi Osaka was criticized when she opened up about her depression.
In an announcement that caught everyone by surprise, the 34-year-old Price voluntarily entered the NHL/NHL Players’ Association joint player assistance program on Thursday. Although it wasn't specified why Price entered the program, his wife, Angela, cited mental health as the reason in an Instagram post.
“No matter what is on the line, we hope we can communicate the importance of putting your mental health first not just by saying it, but by showing up and doing the work to get better," she wrote.
The revelation saw an outpouring of support for Price from all quarters, with even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaching out on Twitter.
Price is the latest star from the sports world to shine a spotlight on mental health. A conversation on the topic started back in May when four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka refused to attend press conferences at the French Open, saying they were detrimental to her mental health.
Osaka ended up withdrawing from the tournament after just one match, while revealing her battle with anxiety. She then went on to take a two-month break from tennis.
Multiple Olympic gold medalist gymnast Simone Biles, inspired by Naomi Osaka, also subsequently opened up about her battle with mental health issues. The American withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics team final, individual all-around final and several of the apparatus finals, citing mental health concerns.
"I say put mental health first," said Simone Biles after pulling out of the team final. "Because if you don't, then you're not going to enjoy your sport and you're not going to succeed as much as you want to."
While Osaka and Biles did receive support from certain sections of society, their actions were also severely criticized by others. Unlike the overwhelming show of support that Price received, Biles and Osaka were subjected to a storm of savage tweets that showed no regard for their mental health.
Leading the band of critics was outspoken British TV personality Piers Morgan, who even went to the extent of labeling Osaka a "spoilt brat" and a "fraud".
"Speaking of frauds, tennis star Naomi Osaka has spent most of the year whining, crying, throwing racket-breaking tantrums on court, and blaming the media for her poor form and mental health issues," Morgan wrote on Osaka in one of his columns for Daily Mail.
With Carey Price being shown a lot of sympathy for his struggles, many took to Twitter to point out the difference in the response to Osaka and Price's announcements. While some appreciated that Price's decision would help remove the stigma surrounding mental health, others expressed hope that all athletes would be treated similarly in the future.
"Just a note that the response to Carey Price versus the response to Naomi Osaka are EXTREMELY different so maybe it’s a good time to highlight the need to raise up all athletes and humans who need mental health supports and not treat it like weakness and to respect their choices," a user named Kristin Raworth wrote.
A user named Keith Asare expressed hope that Black women would receive the same kind of support as Carey Price in the future.
"Hopefully the support that Carey Price is (rightfully) receiving for taking a mental health break is also extended to Black women someday. I'm not talking about contrasting attitudes from ancient history, but rather the last 5 months regarding Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles."
Naomi Osaka's tour hiatus continues
Naomi Osaka has not featured on tour since her third-round defeat to eventual finalist Leylah Fernandez at the US Open. The Japanese said she needed a break from tennis as she had lost the joy in competing.
However, the four-time Slam champion recently revealed that she was looking to make a return to the tour. Her absence from the tour has impacted her ranking, with the Japanese falling out of the world's top 10.