Mental Health Issues, And Why It's So Meaningful When Celebrities Who Live With Them Speak Out

" ... I found that it was OK to talk to somebody and seek help ..."

With all the misconceptions surrounding mental health, it's imperative we continue to talk about it in order to remind people they are not alone, and that it's OK to seek mental health services, when needed. Over the years, celebrities with mental health issues have used their large platforms to speak up out about their own experiences. Doing this is so meaningful because it helps build mental health communities, bring attention to causes that lend support and mental health resources, and spreads mental health awareness while breaking down mental health stigmas. It shows people who are struggling that they are not alone. 

Take a look at some of these celebrities who have shared their mental health stories, and have spread meaningful messages to help bring about more awareness to these issues. 


1. Lena Dunham opened up about her OCD, offering advice to her younger self.

As part of the Child Mind Institute's My Younger Self campaign during Mental Health Month, Lena Dunham opened up about growing up with OCD and a generalized anxiety disorder. In the video, Dunham talked about receiving support for mental health issues from her parents. 

"I feel so lucky that my parents were people that were comfortable with therapy, with medication, and with conversations about anxiety," she said. Dunham also made an important point about asking for help for mental health issues.

"I would tell my younger self that there's no shame in asking a teacher for help, in telling a friend that you're uncomfortable. That it's just the same as falling down and scraping your knee."

2. Demi Lovato reminded us to speak up for those with mental health issues.

In 2015, Lovato, who has bipolar disorder, launched the Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, campaign, and has since been awarded the Artistic Award of Courage.

Bipolar disorder is "a brain and behavior disorder characterized by severe shifts in a person's mood and energy, making it difficult for the person to function," the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation reports. It affects more than 5.7 million American adults. Some of the signs of bipolar disorder include repeated mood swings, mania episode signs, extreme irritability, sleeplessness, and euphoric moods. Depressive episode signs include feelings of hopelessness, a loss of interest in things one once enjoyed, and unintended weight loss or gain. 

In 2015, after a man shot and killed people in Oregon, and the conversation turned towards mental illness, Demi Lovato reminded MSNBC news viewers that shootings should not be blamed on mental illness. Instead, she said we need to stop spreading misconceptions about mental healthand have a larger call to action. 

"I would love to see comprehensive health reform in our government," she said in the interview. "And that mental health treatment is more accessible than it is ... 4 out of 10 people with mental illness are getting the treatment that they need, which leaves you to think how many people aren't getting treatment."

3. Kristen Bell talked about feeling no shame for living with anxiety and depression.

In a 2015 interview with Sam Jones on mental health, Kristen Bell opened up about dealing with anxiety and depression

Signs of depression are not always easy to recognize, but the more we understand the symptoms of mental illness and what causes depression, the more we can help both ourselves and others. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is a common and serious mental disorder that affects one's daily life. If you experience symptoms like feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness, a persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood, decreased energy or fatigue, and they are happening most of the day, nearly every day, for an extended period of time, you may be suffering from depression. 

In her poignant mental health interview, Kristen Bell talked about taking medication for anxiety and depression.

"I got on a prescription when I was really young to help with my anxiety and depression and I still take it today," she said. "I have no shame in that, because my mom had said to me, 'If you start to feel this way, talk to your doctor, talk to a psychologist, see how you want to help yourself. And if you do decide to go on a prescription to help yourself, understand that the world wants to shame you for that, but in the medical community you would never deny a diabetic his insulin, ever.' But for some reason when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they're immediately crazy or something. I don't know, it's a very interesting double standard that I don't often have the ability to talk about, but I certainly feel no shame about."

4. Alanis Morissette talked about postpartum depression and finding the "light at the end of the tunnel."

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chrissy Teigen, and Alanis Morissette are among those women who've opened up about their experiences with postpartum depression (PPD). Such depression in women can occur after they've given birth, and signs of postpartum depression include extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion. It is experienced by one in nine women after giving birth. "Postpartum depression does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do," it says on the NIMH website. 

Recently, Alanis Morissette's postpartum depression struggle came to light when she spoke with People magazine about going through it twice.

"The stigma remains in a really big way," Morissette told People magazine. "There's this version of eye contact that I have with women who have been through PPD where it's this silent, 'Oh my God, I love you. I'm so sorry.' " 

"I just know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and try not to beat myself up," Morissette said.

5. Michael Phelps talked about his ADHD, and reminded us it’s OK to ask for help.

Phelps talked about his mental health in a video for the Child Mind Institute's My Younger Self campaign. In his video, Phelps opened up about growing up with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), "a highly genetic, brain-based syndrome that has to do with the regulation of a particular set of brain functions and related behaviors."

"ADHD is NOT caused by: poor parenting, falls or head injuries, traumatic life events, digital distractions, video games and television, lack of physical activity, food additives, food allergies, or excess sugar." ADHD is a complex diagnosis with various forms of treatment. 

In his video on ADHD, Phelps addressed those who doubted him because of his ADHD as well as the reasons why he's thankful for who he is.

"I look at myself every day and I'm so proud and so happy of who I am and who I've been able to become," he said. "If I could go back in time and I could tell my younger self something, I would tell him to believe what's in his heart and never give up."

Like others mentioned previously, Phelps also reiterated the importance of asking for help for mental health issues

"I think the biggest thing for me, once I found that it was OK to talk to somebody and seek help, I think that's something that has changed my life forever. And now I'm able to live my life to the fullest."

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, there are a number of resources available to provide support. Check them out here.

Cover photo via Shutterstock / Tinseltown

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