Celebrities Are Opening Up About Mental Health: Will this Help Erase Stigmas?
Mariah Carey recently revealed her experiences with Bipolar II disorder throughout her life to People Magazine in a full cover story. Pete Davidson, who skyrocketed to fame because of his relationship with a certain pop diva, has never shied away from transparency about his Borderline Personality Disorder. He’s made light of it often on Saturday Night Live. And Kanye West announced he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder on his new album, using lyrics and the album’s cover art to express his mental illness. In an interview, he explained that he wasn’t diagnosed until he was 39.
In America, there has always been a stigma surrounding mental illness. People are often embarrassed to share they’ve dealt with feelings of anxiety, depression, and mania. The government required group health insurance plans to cover mental health only 10 years ago. For decades, Americans have been shrugging off addictions, suicidal thoughts, and warning signs of illnesses that can result in harmful psychosis; the idea of “you’re crazy” when you admit to your struggles has been ingrained in society.
We millennials love following celebrities on social platforms and seeing them doing the same things we do. I enjoy sipping my kombucha while swiping through my friends’ Insta stories, getting a quick glimpse of Cardi B picking out her cereal, or empathizing with Lena Dunham expressing her migraine pain through a cranky selfie. This access into our favorite figures’ lives feels personal and makes them seem more accessible as human beings. So when they talk about serious issues like mental health, I am ALL FOR IT. I want more of it. I encourage more transparency and authenticity regarding mental health not just from celebrities, but from all types of Americans, in the public eye or not.
Too often, we’re expressing our sympathy on social media for a public figure the world has lost from suicide. And rates are climbing. Last year, 45,000 people died from suicide and it was the number 2 cause of death between the ages of 10-34 in 2016. The more we have a greater conversation about suicide and mental health, the more the stigma will dim. As the conversation spreads and awareness grows, people will gain a broader understanding of mental health and recognize warning signs of mental illness. It’ll become easier for anyone at risk to gain access to the healthcare they need.
To start erasing a stigma, we need to be courageous enough to share our stories when we’re comfortably ready to do so. I feel emboldened by all the different celebrities sharing their experiences in the same way I feel connected by their social media posts. We have a common ground. They’re being their true selves out in the open, and hey look, they’re still famous. Why shouldn’t we all be our true selves and still be successful and respected by those we love?
Be healthy and stay strong! Be who you are and do what you love. F&*k the Rest.
If you or someone you know needs mental help, there are so many free resources. Also, if you’d like to support organizations for mental health, please consider some sites below: