American swimming legend Michael Phelps is one of the keynote speaker at the fourth global World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) to be held at Qatar National Convention Centre on 13-14 November. WISH is an initiative of Qatar Foundation (QF).
Phelps is widely regarded as one of the most successful athletes of all time, having won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which were gold. In 2008, he launched the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes water safety, healthy living, and the pursuit of dreams.
Mental Health Advocate
Away from his time in the spotlight, however, Phelps experienced mental health challenges with anxiety and depression. Subsequent to his success competing in 2012, he suffered from a severe bout of depression that led him to seek professional help – a decision that he now credits with saving his life.
Since retiring from competitive swimming after winning five gold medals in 2016, Phelps has become a staunch advocate of addressing stigmas related to mental health and encouraging others to seek professional help with their mental health challenges.
Looking ahead to his visit to Doha, Phelps said he is honoured to be part of WISH 2018 and look forward to discussing the importance of having a healthy body and mind.
Mental health and well-being is fundamental in leading a productive and successful life, and I strongly believe that open communication is one of the keys to understanding and addressing one’s mental health.’
By speaking at WISH, Phelps aims to offer his personal perspective on dealing with mental health challenges to the assembled healthcare leaders. His participation in WISH 2018 will include an on-stage interview with Mishal Husain of BBC News.
WISH CEO Sultana Afdhal said that having had such success as a sportsman, Phelps exemplifies the fact that the level of professional success is no measure of an individual’s mental health.
Michael has become a tremendous patient advocate for millions of people globally who are dealing with anxiety or depression. We look forward to welcoming him to our summit and hearing what he has to say.’
Addressing Mental Health Issues
WISH has a longstanding commitment to address mental health issues. Most recently, in partnership with the US-based The Carter Center, they launched an initiative to train student journalists in Qatar to report ethically and responsibly on mental health. The project is part of the ongoing Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism programme, brought to Qatar in 2016 as part of a partnership between WISH and The Carter Center.
As part of a full programme, WISH 2018 will feature nine panel discussions, based on evidence-based research, that highlight and address some of the world’s most pressing healthcare challenges.
The WISH Innovation Hub, an enhanced interactive exhibition space, will feature some of the world’s most exciting healthcare innovations. It will also host informal discussions, provide hands-on experience of technologies, and offer a variety of networking opportunities.