Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn said Wednesday everybody should treat their mental health with the same attention as their physical health.
"I feel like, honestly, everyone should have a therapist," Vonn told Tom Schad of USA Today. "It should be like having a dentist, or going to a pediatrician. We should all take mental health seriously and do our best every day to make sure we're taking care of it."
Vonn, a winter Olympian, added it's something athletes must be keenly aware of and honest about as they prepare for this year's Summer Games, which kick off next month in Tokyo.
"I wish I had been able to—or been strong enough to—talk about [depression] back in the early parts of my career," she said. "But I think the older I got and the more support I got from others, the more I realized there's no shame in it."
The 36-year-old Minnesota native was one of alpine skiing's biggest stars at her peak. She won her only Olympic gold medal in the women's downhill at the 2010 Vancouver Games and also took home a pair of bronze medals from Vancouver (Super-G) and the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea (downhill).
She also won eight total medals (two gold, three silver and three bronze) in the World Championships throughout her career, which ended with her 2019 retirement.
Vonn explained to Schad she'd often used her dogs, Leo and Lucy, as emotional support animals during difficult times.
"I think dogs give you a level of unconditional love and support that you don't, unfortunately, get from humans," she said. "Lucy doesn't know that I ski race. She doesn't care. She's just happy every time I walk through the door. For me, that always gave me a sense of peace and stability. And it grounded me, because it made me keep everything in perspective."
Vonn, who won four overall World Cup seasonal titles in addition to her success on the sport's biggest stages, added the Olympics are a perfect platform to discuss important aspects of life, ranging from mental health to social issues.
"I think the Olympics provide a great platform, for people to speak about things they believe are important, to bring to light things that maybe would not be brought to light," she told USA Today.
The opening ceremony for the Summer Games is scheduled for July 23, though there are lingering concerns about the Olympics' impact on the potential spread of COVID-19 as athletes travel to Tokyo and then back to their home countries over the next few months.