Michael Phelps: 'It’s OK to not be OK'

Mental health awareness, water conservation, and more: how the all-time most successful Olympian keeps busy after overcoming personal struggle

With 28 medals, US swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. But that doesn’t make him invincible, he says.

Like many high-achieving people, Phelps has dealt with mental health issues and thoughts of suicide, which he’s discussed openly in the media. But he’s turned his obstacles into opportunities.

Last year, he partnered with Talkspace, an online therapy company, to help promote awareness and destigmatise mental illness. He was recognised this week for his work with an award from Boston-based philanthropy organization the Ruderman Family Foundation, a leading advocacy group.

Most recently, Phelps continued his work as the spokesperson for toothpaste company Colgate’s 'Every Drop Counts' water conservation campaign, which aims to save water by reminding people to turn off the tap as they brush.

It’s not always easy to be at the absolute top of your field, and then find new passions and goals afterward – particularly after going through personal struggles. But Phelps seems to stay busy doing just that.

 “I do love what I do,” he says.

Interview by Bryan Lufkin. Video by Matt Bockelman and Evan Frushtick. Editing by Maeve Burke and Sebastian Diaz.

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