Aly Raisman Says It's 'Important' for Athletes to Speak 'Their Truth' as She Praises Simone Biles

"I think it's really important that we continue to amplify people's voices," Aly Raisman says of people speaking more candidly about mental health struggles

Aly Raisman has become a mental health advocate in the years since she stopped competitive gymnastics, and she's proud to see other athletes speaking out about wellness.

In an exclusive clip from the "Better Together Mental Health Storytelling Series" on Thursday, for which Raisman is the keynote speaker, the former Olympic gymnast says, "It's so important that athletes are speaking their truth and being honest."

Asked by MTV host Nessa about high-profile athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles sharing their mental health stories and if these stories "are impacting people," Raisman says, "I have so much respect for both of them."

Earlier this year, tennis champion Osaka pulled out of several Grand Slam tournaments, revealing that she has suffered from depression and anxiety related to the constant spotlight and the press requirements set for athletes.

And during the Olympics, Biles opted not to compete in many of her events after suffering a case of the twisties, aka a dangerous loss of air awareness that gymnasts can experience.

"You know Simone is a friend of mine," says Raisman, 27. "I don't know Naomi but I'm a big fan of Naomi and I think that both of them are doing really important things. I recognize that it must be really hard to do that — to be so honest and vulnerable but by them speaking their truth they are really helping so many people, and we may never know how many lives that they've saved and how many people feel less alone and feel the courage to ask for help because they spoke up."

Aly Raisman. Bob Levey/Getty

Raisman says it's "incredible" that people are now "supporting athletes that are speaking up and it's becoming more of a normalized situation. I don't think I know anyone in my life who has never struggled with any type of anxiety or depression ... It's very common and I think it's really important that we continue to amplify people's voices not just people in the spotlight. Everyone has the power to make somebody else feel better and feel heard."

Back in July, Raisman told PEOPLE that she was "proud" of the 24-year-old for focusing on her mental health by removing herself from the team event at the Tokyo Games.

"Simone has more pressure than any other gymnast I've ever seen in my lifetime. And it's a lot," says Raisman. "And I think that it's a bigger conversation of, you know, there needs to be better systems out there to support the mental health of athletes and to help athletes navigate how much pressure they're under."

The "Better Together Mental Health Storytelling Series" is intended to encourage engagement with the Mental Health Media Guide: a resource for content creators designed to elevate storytelling opportunities that can change the narrative on mental health.

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