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Mental Coach To Top Athletes Calls Simone Biles' Decision 'A Heroic Move'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Simone Biles' decision to opt out of some Olympic events is intensifying a conversation about athletes and their mental heath.

CBS2's Steve Overmyer spoke with one of the foremost mental coaches.

Olympians' love for sports begins on the playground.

"They start out because they have this interest, or this inclination, for this one sport, and it starts out with play," said Todd Herman.

Herman watches his kids play at Hudson River Park, but he's a phone call away from the Olympics.

For more than two decades, Herman has been a mental coach for some of the world's top athletes. He's been on the phone with more than 50 Olympians in the past 48 hours.

"It's just like this, 'Holy crap, we need help now. Like, we need immediate help,'" he said. "They need help with just navigating this very different environment than they've ever been used to."

Athletes have recognized they need to treat mental health just like they'd treat a bodily injury. It starts with belief.

"What we're actually trying to move towards is trust. When you can trust yourself, trust your preparation, trust your routines, that's when your ability to bring all of your capabilities out into that performance can happen," said Herman.

His best selling book "The Alter Ego Effect" explains how athletes can help themselves by summoning their own, favorite superhero.

"If your alter ego's name was Tony Stark... If you were to step into Stark, what would Stark be saying to Steve? Because I want you to be talking to yourself. Because that's where you develop this skillset of coachability for your own self," he explained to Overmyer.

Biles addressing her mental health was applauded by athletes worldwide and opened the door to honest conversations.

"They saw Simone do it. It gave them the permission to say, 'Hey, I'm not right either. I need help.' I think what she's done is, it's a heroic move," Herman said.

Mental health solutions sometimes take years. Other times, all that's needed is a phone call.

"Do you expect more calls before the Olympics end?" Overmyer asked.

"Well, it hasn't stopped. Even with my phone in my back pocket, I can feel it buzzing sometimes," Herman said.

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