Michael Phelps quietly struggled with his mental health behind closed doors.

"I was running and escaping from whatever it was I was running from."

At the 2012 Olympics in London, the world recognized Michael Phelps as the unrivaled champion of the swimming pool.

Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images.


But behind closed doors, the American athlete says, he was wrestling with inner demons far away from the prying spotlight.

“I went in with no self-confidence, no self-love," Phelps said in a recent interview with NBC's "Dateline" of his time in London four years ago. “I think the biggest thing was, I thought of myself as just a swimmer, and nobody else.”

Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

The most decorated Olympian in history — the man who's won a record-breaking 18 gold medals in the swimming pool — says he had been struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse for a while. And nobody except his closest friends and family knew about it:

“100%, I was lost, pushing a lot people out of my life — people that I wanted and needed in my life. I was running and escaping from whatever it was I was running from.”

It took a life-changing run-in with the law in 2014 for Phelps to realize he needed help.

About a year and a half ago, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence — the second time he was charged with the offense. The arrest was a major wake-up call.

“I was [in] the lowest place I’ve ever been," he told "Dateline." "Honestly, I sort of, at one point, I just — I felt like I didn’t want to see another day. I felt like it should be over."

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

Phelps checked himself into a rehab clinic in October 2014, where he says he cried himself to sleep the first several nights. But through treatment, Phelps was able to address many of the underlying issues affecting his health, including a turbulent relationship with his father dating back to childhood.

Today, as Phelps trains for the Olympics this summer, he says he's in a much better place.

When celebrities speak out about their mental health struggles, it's worth noticing because their courage can be contagious.

Take, for instance, Hayden Panettiere. The Internet rallied behind the actress after she addressed living with postpartum depression in recent months.

"The postpartum depression I have been experiencing has impacted every aspect of my life,” she told followers on Twitter last week. “Rather than stay stuck due to unhealthy coping mechanisms, I have chosen to take time to reflect holistically on my health and life. Wish me luck!"

Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for NBCUniversal.

In March, "Prison Break" star Wentworth Miller chose to take a viral Internet meme making fun of his weight and use it to shine a light on the dangers of depression.

When the viral photo was taken about six years ago, he was suicidal. Food had been "the one thing I could look forward to," he'd explained in a Facebook post:

"Long story short, I survived. So do those pictures. I'm glad. Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons."

Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images.

These stories about our favorite actors and athletes — the same people whose posters line our bedroom walls and epitomize the glitz and glamour of success — can be difficult to hear.

But their openness can inspire fans and readers to face their own struggles, and that bravery can become a powerful catalyst for change.

Now, Phelps is looking ahead to the Olympics this summer with his eye on the prize. But win or lose, he already feels like a champ.

I’m having fun again," Phelps said. "This is something I haven’t had in a really long time."

His fiancée, Nicole, just gave birth to their son earlier this month. And becoming a dad has been the "best feeling" he's ever felt in his life.

It sounds like he's already snagged the gold.

A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on
Family

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture