Cheryl Burke is leaving Dancing with the Stars with new goals in mind.
The professional dancer, 38, announced her retirement from the show in an Instagram post on Sunday and, following the season 31 finale on Monday, expressed that she’s shifting her attention to be a mental health advocate.
“I believe that I’ve been given and blessed to have this platform to be able to talk about my own experience. I’m no professional, but I do know how I help people by talking about my journey,” she told E! News following the show, adding that she also hopes to launch a dance program next year that “has to do with mental health and movement.”
Burke competed on the show for 26 seasons and became the first professional dancer to win two consecutive seasons.
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Before appearing on her last season of DWTS with Good Morning America weather anchor Sam Champion, she used the downtime from the show to launch the podcast Burke in the Game.
On the podcast, she openly talks about mental health with doctors and celebrity friends.
After news of her retirement was made public, she opened up to PEOPLE about how the show, as well as her sobriety journey, has taken a toll on her own mental health.
“I feel like I really have evolved and have just done a lot of work within myself and to continue to be judged, to continue to worry about my body, to continue to worry about if I look good or not look good in a costume is not where I am at today,” she said.
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Although she’s been sober for four years, she also expressed that her public divorce from ex Matthew Lawrence has not made the journey easier.
“I didn’t want this,” she said on Red Table Talk earlier this month. “My parents got divorced and I would’ve loved to not have, so that wasn’t the plan. I’m not proud of it, for sure. But then there’s also a point where I need to put myself first and my sobriety first.”