More celebrities leading the way for mental health awareness.
Mental health awareness has been brought into the spotlight as of late. More and more artists, celebrities, musicians, and actors have been coming forward with their own accounts of personal struggle with mental health. By using their influence to spread knowledge about the stigma surrounding mental health, positive strides have been made for everyday people struggling with mental health problems.
The stigma surrounding mental health can be broken down into two parts. As Dr. Graham Davey writes, “Social stigma is characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given.” The other facet of stigma when it concerns mental health is perceived stigma or self-stigma. While both of these concepts add another layer of difficulty when it comes to living with a mental illness, social stigma , in particular, is what celebrities are now seeking to uproot.
The common goal that all of these celebrities share is to break the social stigma around mental health, in particular, about seeking help and finding treatment. Mental illness does not discriminate and it comes in a variety of ways. Recently, Demi Lovato entered the spotlight once again due to a very public relapse that almost claimed her life. Lovato has been known for being a crusader in the effort against mental health stigma, as she has faced battles with mental illness ranging from eating disorders to drug abuse, to bipolar disorder. In a vulnerable interview with Amanda Silverman for Elle Magazine, Demi brought light to a troubling reality, “Four out of ten people with mental illness get help […] You have to wonder about the other six.”
Lovato, like many other celebrities, has the distinct privilege of having access to treatment. However, in the recent past, admitting a mental illness diagnosis could be a career-ender for someone in the spotlight. Despite the possible negative repercussions, the likes of celebrities from Lovato to Chrissy Teigen, Prince Harry, Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Cara Delevingne, and Kendrick Lamar, have all come forward to admit that they have faced their own respective difficulties with mental health, ranging from anxiety to postpartum depression, panic attacks and more.
For instance, child star turned singer, actress, producer and one of the most followed celebrities on Instagram Selena Gomez opened up about her struggles with mental health with an inspiring story for Vogue, addressing young women and girls on the importance of social media detoxes and focusing on living a life she wanted, not the media. Selena commented on the DBT-based treatment she received in a facility in Tennessee, where she had a chance to heal with a small group of other young women. “You have no idea how incredible it felt to just be with six girls, real people who couldn’t give two shits about who I was, who were fighting for their lives,” Selena told Vogue. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it was the best thing I’ve done.”
It is vital to the health of the population to feel comfortable having an open and honest dialogue about mental health. Additionally, education is key when it comes to breaking the stigma. The National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI, states on the organization’s site, that “one in five adults in America experience a mental illness.” That is a staggering statistic.
How the media and the greater society reacts to these brave accounts given by celebrities, will ultimately decide whether the stigma surrounding mental health will dissipate or carry on. Mental health issues are tied up in so many aspects of media, from the highly-publicized mental breakdowns of celebrities to the gun safety debate, “mental health” has become a regular buzzword in the news cycle. Therefore, it is a topic that needs not only to be discussed but to be understood.
In an interview with Kelly McCarthy for ABC, Lovato summarizes the important of celebrities vocalizing their mental health battles by saying “it’s important that I use my voice for more than just singing and I just know how important it is to use my platform to help others and to share my story in hopes it inspires people […] I just want people to know they’re not alone.”
As more influential players in media come forward to bring mental health awareness back into the spotlight, more everyday people can begin to truly feel that they are not alone, and that there is an entire network of people who understand their experience and are pursuing treatment for the same problems that they may be facing.