Naomi Osaka Partners with Modern Health to Destigmatize Mental Health Care: 'My Goal Is to Empower Others'

“Naomi’s bravery in publicly sharing her own struggles has already helped to destigmatize and reframe the conversation around mental health for the next generation,” says founder and CEO Alyson Watson

Alyson Watson with Naomi Osaka at the 2022 Miami Open WTA 1000 tennis tournament
Photo: Rob Prange

Naomi Osaka is using her platform to help others.

The 24-year-old tennis champion recently joined forces with Modern Health, a workplace mental health platform, to raise further awareness and destigmatize mental health care among younger generations and marginalized communities.

The star athlete will serve as the Chief Community Health Advocate of Modern Health's community impact program focused on giving back, Modern Health Community, according to a statement shared with PEOPLE.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 26: Naomi Osaka of Team Japan plays a backhand during her Women's Singles Second Round match against Viktorija Golubic of Team Switzerland on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty

Osaka will work closely with Modern Health to build the program with three main pillars of change – training and empowering underrepresented providers, improving access to evidence-based mental health care, and promoting community mental health and well-being – one of which focuses on meditation tools developed and narrated by the four-time Grand Slam champ.

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"I came more recently to meditation and although now I find it to be very helpful, I didn't at first. The reason is that I didn't like listening to the sound of my own breath – it would just make me more nervous," says Osaka.

"I've now learned that there are many different ways to pay attention to your breath and alongside Modern Health's clinical team I have created this meditation for those people who are perhaps unsure of meditation or newer to this practice," she continues. "I want everyone to have the opportunity to start somewhere."

"We are incredibly excited and humbled to have Naomi join the Modern Health family and become part of our important mission," says Alyson Watson, Founder & CEO of Modern Health. "Naomi's bravery in publicly sharing her own struggles has already helped to destigmatize and reframe the conversation around mental health for the next generation to be more open and vulnerable."

Adds Watson: "Together, we will combine Modern Health's clinical expertise and Naomi's incredible voice, vulnerability, and influence to continue to drive positive change around mental wellness for individuals across the world."

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Last year, Osaka made headlines when she voluntarily withdrew from the French Open, explaining her need to prioritize her mental health and emotional well-being in a lengthy announcement posted to Instagram.

"More and more people across the world are struggling with mental health and in taking a stand to protect my own last year, I inadvertently ignited a public conversation. Since then I've not only focused on my own mental health including meditating as well as starting to see a therapist, but I've also realized my own experience can help others. My goal is to empower others to not be hesitant to seek the help they need," says Osaka.

"It was an easy decision to join Modern Health. We are aligned in our passion to support our communities, and as an entrepreneur myself, I was inspired by the strong leadership under Alyson," the tennis phenom continues. "Together, I believe we can start to erase some of the stigma and normalize conversations about mental health so people feel empowered to seek help when they need it."

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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