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Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Axios Visuals

Simone Biles' withdrawal from Olympics gymnastics events generated significant public interest in mental health, according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.

Why it matters: The Tokyo Games offered the ultimate platform for the topic to get global attention, with much of the world watching the same story.

Biles sparked a bigger conversation about mental health than either Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah or Naomi Osaka's withdrawal from the French Open — both of which generated significant international interest.

By the numbers: In the week following Biles' withdrawal from the team event, stories about the gymnast and mental health generated more than 2 million social media interactions (likes, comments, shares) — 25% higher than Meghan and Harry in the days following their interview.

  • Google searches about mental health spiked that day, hitting their highest level in more than two months.

The big picture: The intensity of coverage around mental health has picked up with major events over the course of the year.

  • There were more than 9,000 stories on Biles and mental health over the last week — nearly twice the coverage of Osaka two months earlier, and nearly four times more than the mental health angle with the Royals.

Between the lines: Biles, Osaka and Markle all cited the burden of expectation as stars from whom much is demanded.

  • Biles' distress was compounded by a case of the "twisties", which gymnasts recognize as the loss of the ability to find themselves while in the air and react as they are trained.
  • The phenomenon not only means that they can't perform well, but that they put themselves in danger if they perform at all.
  • Each of the incidents involved Black women who faced considerable public blowback following their moments of candor.

Go deeper

Americans now want to read about sports, not politics

Expand chart
Data: Taboola; Table: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Politics and hard news have moved to the back burner of the national conversation, with sports — and particularly the NFL — generating more interest, new data shows.

Why it matters: It's a huge shift from a year ago, when most of the top stories in the U.S. were about hot-button political topics.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
48 mins ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.

Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial

Sarah Palin. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, delaying the start of her defamation trial against the New York Times.

Why it matters: The trial will be closely watched, as it's a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury.