(GoHealthier.com) – Mental health challenges can be difficult to talk about. The stigma might not be so obvious to individuals who aren’t living it, but it can be crushing for those who know the struggle firsthand. Too many people live beneath the dark cloud of their mental health diagnoses, too afraid of judgment to share their experiences.
Some celebrities have decided enough is enough, and they’re using their fame and influence to help raise sufferers out of the stigma. Here are some of their stories.
Comedian and show host Howie Mandel has been open about his struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for years. He’s spoken out numerous times in an effort to help normalize the condition, which affects about 2.3% of the population. Everyday Health reports that his fear of germs, one of many ways OCD can manifest, was so severe at one point that he stayed in a guest house in his back yard. Still uneasy about handshakes, Mandel has popularized the fist-bump.
Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones struggled with bipolar disorder for much of her life, but her mental health spiraled out of control after her husband, Michael Douglas, fell ill with throat cancer. Open Colleges writes that she’s spoken out in the hope that people with unmanaged bipolar disorder come forward and get the life-saving help they deserve. “There is no need to suffer silently,” says the actress, “and there is no shame in seeking help.”
Popular singer Billie Eilish has dealt with severe depression and body dysmorphic disorder since her early teens. Vogue reports that she’s open about the times she’s fought suicidal thoughts, feeling the importance of talking about the experience and reaching out to others also suffering from that desperate low. To those people, she has a message: “Please take care of yourself and be good to yourself.”
Actress, producer and singer Selena Gomez is another vocal advocate for people with mental health issues. CNN reports that her time in the spotlight has shown her how emotionally damaging social media can be, with its unrealistic images of perfection and beauty. Gomez sees herself as a voice for celebrating uniqueness and condemning stigma, reminding all those out there who are struggling with self-image, “You are not alone.”
Canadian singing sensation Alanis Morissette, who rose to fame after the release of her mainstream debut, “Jagged Little Pill,” recently channeled her mental health issues into a new album, Such Pretty Forks in the Road. Rolling Stone shares that the upcoming album contains titles like “Diagnosis,” “Why I Drink” and “Smiling,” which detail different aspects of Morissette’s personal journey with depression.
Popular actress Emma Stone has been intensely open about her past struggles with anxiety, sharing in interviews about her experience with panic attacks and the benefits of therapy. She tells Shape that it’s important to be proactive about mental health struggles, sharing that she takes time regularly to read, meditate and listen to music to keep herself better balanced.
Best known for her angry and resilient portrayal of “The Terminator’s” Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton channeled much of the darkness from her bipolar depression into the iconic character. The actress admits during an interview with Today that she feels she lost her 20s and 30s to the disorder. She says she was suffering so intensely at one point that she turned to drugs and alcohol. Now, Hamilton is an advocate for fighting mental illness with a good balance of therapy, fitness and healthy eating.
Mental health stigma continues to affect far too many people, but these brave celebrities and others are doing what they can to turn the tide. No one deserves to feel bad about suffering from an illness, and mental health issues should be no exception. Only when enough people stand up for mental illness will the stigma disappear.
~Here’s to a Healthier Life!
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