Celebrities have a very powerful voice when it comes to social change. More and more celebrities are using their voice to open up about their own struggles with mental health issues, which is a reflection of our own society slowly beginning to more openly confront these challenges. Here is a short list of brave celebrities who recently shared with fans that they too bear the burden that nearly 1 in 5 Americans do every year:
1. Demi Lovato: Demi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010. She now heads the initiative Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, an organization that sets out to change the way mental health and illness is viewed. Lovato has also struggled with suicidal thoughts, anorexia, bulimia, self harm, cocaine abuse, and alcohol abuse. About her struggles with mental illness, Demi reveals, “One of the reasons I was so unhappy for years was because I never embraced my emotions and I was trying to stay in control. In treatment, all of the negative things I did were stripped away and I had to start processing my feelings.”
2. Selena Gomez: Selena is well-known for her struggle with lupus, an autoimmune disease. Recently she shared with the world that she also struggles with anxiety and depression, and even attended a treatment center for 90 days to improve her mental health. “I had to stop, ’cause I had everything, and I was absolutely broken inside. And I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down. But I kept it too much together to where I let myself down. I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram, I want to see what’s in here,” Selena shared at the AMA awards, putting her hand on her heart. She went on to conclude, “If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken.” Selena continues to attend DBT therapy five times a week to further her recovery.
3. Kristen Bell: Kristen Bell, who recently starred in Frozen (and also in one of my personal favorite movies, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), shared a personal essay about her experience with depression in 2016. The purpose of her essay was to chip away at the taboo our society holds on discussing mental health. According to Bell, “Anxiety and depression are impervious to accolades and achievements. Anyone can be affected…”
4. Prince Harry: Prince Harry recently opened up about losing his mom, Princess Diana, which was perhaps one of the most discussed celebrity deaths in history. He said that he bottled up his grief for 20 years, to the point where he had been “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions” and that it led him to experience “two years of total chaos.” He shared that he started counseling and is now in a much better place.
5. Lady Gaga: In 2016, Lady Gaga admitted to struggling with PTSD after being raped at age 19. The now 30-year-old pop star recently collaborated with Prince William, Prince Harry’s brother, over a FaceTime call, joining him in the initiative he leads called Heads Together, a campaign that raises awareness on mental illness. Heads Together created a hashtag #oktosay for the purpose of letting people know it’s ok to talk about mental illness and to defeat the shame and stigma surrounding it.
6. Chrissy Teigan: Model, TV personality, and wife of John Legend, Teigan recently had a baby and shared her struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety. She said that she, like many others, associated postpartum depression with not loving your baby or even wanting to harm it. While she felt nothing but love and joy towards her baby, she would have days where it was too hard to leave the couch and only left the house when she needed to work. According to Teigan, “Postpartum does not discriminate: I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling. Sometimes I still do.” She says that she now feels a lot better and is taking an antidepressant as well as seeing a therapist.
7. Kid Cudi: In October 2016, rapper Kid Cudi opened up to his fans in an extremely personal Facebook post that he was checking himself into rehab due to anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Kudi shared, “My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it. I cant make new friends because of it. I dont trust anyone because of it and Im tired of being held back in my life.”
8. Kesha: Singer and pop star Kesha’s songs portray a carefree party girl attitude that we all love to pump ourselves up with before a night out. However, in 2016, Kesha revealed that beneath that facade, she struggles with anxiety and depression. That same year, Kesha was involved in a legal battle with her former producer, coming forward with accusations that he had sexually assaulted her during their time working together. According to Kesha, “Finding the strength to come forward about those things is not easy. But maybe, by telling my story, I can help someone else going through tough times.”
9. Ryan Reynolds: To most, Reynolds seems like a happy and carefree guy. And in general, he would agree with that sentiment. However, last year he revealed that upon finishing filming Deadpool, he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Reynolds shared in an interview with GQ, “When it [Deadpool] ﬁnally ended, I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown. I literally had the shakes. I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something. And every doctor I saw said, ‘You have anxiety.’” Reynolds says that in general, his baseline is “pretty good,” but that he has dealt with “a few pretty intense anxiety hiccups” over the course of his life.
10. Kendall Jenner: Kendall Jenner has constantly been in the spotlight over the past few years, more recently due to her Pepsi ad fiasco. Amidst her other claims to fame, the model’s admittance that she struggles with anxiety has been popping up in celebrity news. In 2016, Jenner shared that she struggles with sleep paralysis and anxiety. “I wake up in the middle of the night freaking out. Full panic attacks. They wake me up from my sleep, and I need to stand up and I pace and I’m freaking out and crying.” She recently admitted that the anxiety has worsened due to “security concerns” when a stalker showed up at her home and banged on her car window while she was in it. Jenner is learning how to cope with her anxiety through meditation and breathing techniques that she has learned in therapy.
11. Kim Kardashian: Speaking of the Jenner/Kardashian clan, Kendall’s sister Kim also revealed her struggle with anxiety in 2016. Kim discussed her anxiety on an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, sharing, “I think about it all the time, it drives me crazy. I just want to get past my anxiety and live life… I never had anxiety and I want to take back my life.” This revelation occurred before the infamous incident in Paris, also in 2016, where Kim was robbed in her hotel room at gunpoint. Her anxiety has only taken a turn for the worse since the attack, and both she and her husband Kanye, who was hospitalized for a mental breakdown involving temporary psychosis later that same year, are receiving individual therapy.
12. Cara Delevingne: 2016’s multi-talented it girl Cara Delevigne seemed to be everywhere, from photo shoots to movies to commercials to music and TV appearances. That same year, Cara opened up about her lifelong struggle with depression. She tweeted in April 2016, “I suffer from depression and was a model during a particularly rough patch of self hatred.” During that rough patch, she shares, “I was completely suicidal, didn’t want to live anymore. I thought that I was completely alone … I wanted the world to swallow me up, and nothing seemed better to me than death.” Cara began getting help for her depression at age 16, but acknowledges that it will likely be a lifelong struggle for her.
13. Ellie Goulding: In March of 2017, singer/songwriter, Ellie Goulding, wrote an essay for Well + Good, an online wellness lifestyle publication, detailing her experiences with anxiety and panic attacks. Goulding shared, “I started having panic attacks, and the scariest part was it could be triggered by anything. I used to cover my face with a pillow whenever I had to walk outside from the car to the studio. My new life as a pop star certainly wasn’t as glamorous as all my friends from home thought. Secretly, I was really struggling physically and emotionally.” Goulding says she has found solace in exercise such as kickboxing and boxing, and though she still struggles with anxiety, she says that exercise has helped her become more confident and believe in herself more.
14. Carrie Fisher: The late Carrie Fisher, AKA, Princess Leia from Star Wars, was a longtime champion of opening up about mental health. She famously struggled with bipolar disorder, and less famously, a prescription drug addiction, both of which she has discussed in interviews throughout her lifetime as well as in the books she authored. Her death in 2016 brought upon a wave of appreciation for her openness about mental illness, along with the trending hashtag #InHonorofCarrie on Twitter where people shared their own struggles with mental illness.
Bravo to these brave celebs. 2016 was quite the year for celebrities opening up about mental illness, and 2017 proves to be following suit. Celebrities are trendsetters, so here’s to hoping that one day we can all be open and honest with each other about our struggles, and that we can defeat the stigma of mental illness and get people the help that they need.