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The Stigma of Mental Illness: How Celebrities Are Helping

For adolescents dealing with mental illness, one of the most challenging aspects can be overcoming the stigma associated with it. According to a study by the Association for Psychological Science, shame and disgrace are significant factors preventing people from seeking mental health treatment.

The Problem of Mental Illness Stigma

Stigma is not the only obstacle that influences the decision to seek help for mental illness. But it is one that profoundly influences those who suffer from debilitating symptoms of psychological affliction. The public often accepts pervasive stereotypes that wrongly see people with mental illnesses as dangerous or unpredictable. These misconceptions can cause people to avoid or drop out of treatment because they don’t want to be associated with negative images. Those with mental illness also face additional hardships when stigma influences the beliefs and behaviors of their friends, family and even care providers. Patrick Corrigan, professor of psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, stated, “The prejudice and discrimination toward mental illness is as disabling as the illness itself. It undermines people attaining their personal goals and dissuades them from pursuing effective treatments.”

The Fight Against Prejudice

Stigma is not something that will go away on its own. People from all walks of life need to work together to change the way mental illness is perceived in our society. To this end, many public figures are collaborating to fight prejudice against those suffering from mental health issues. One way they are doing this is by creating public service announcements and supporting movements that specifically address stigma against mental illness. Their efforts represent a powerful commitment to support mental health and well-being. One such effort is a California-based campaign, “Each Mind Matters.” The goal of this program is to create a community where everyone feels comfortable reaching out for the support they deserve. An increasing number of celebrities are also revealing their own personal struggles with mental illness. Just because they are famous doesn’t mean they haven’t felt the shame or fear that others experience. Nor are they strangers to the very real discrimination that exists against those suffering from mental illness.

Celebrities Share Their Own Experiences

When those in the public eye share their personal struggles with mental illness, they promote open discussion that paves the way for more people to get help with their own conditions. Celebrities’ own examples help others realize they do not need to remain silent. While no person is defined by the mental health issues they deal with, the following celebrities have spoken publicly about their own struggles:

  • Demi Lovato and Bipolar Disorder. Few musicians have been as outspoken about their mental illness and recovery. Lovato has even spearheaded the “Be Vocal” campaign, encouraging others to speak up about mental illness.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio and OCD. The recent academy award-winning actor struggled with OCD as a child and still experiences mild forms of the condition that bother him from time to time.
  • Pete Wentz and Bipolar Disorder. Wentz, the bassist for the band Fall Out Boy, opened up about his struggle with bipolar disorder. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Wentz said, “I think there’s no shame in talking about that kind of stuff. It’s not something you should feel scared talking about.”
  • Brittany Snow and Depression. Known for her role in the Pitch Perfect movies, Snow battled eating disorders for a long time and struggled with depression and self-harm.
  • Olivia Munn and Anxiety and Trichotillomania. Suffering from an anxiety condition, Munn admits to plucking out her own eyelashes when she’s feeling anxious.
  • David Beckham and OCD. The soccer superstar, husband and father lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He has spoken about his debilitating habits and how exhausting the compulsions can be.
  • Megan Fox and OCD. The actress has told the media that she struggles with compulsions, particularly about using restaurant silverware and public toilets.
  • Jared Padalecki and Depression. One of the stars of Supernatural and Gilmore Girls, Padalecki has struggled with depression. He is an outspoken advocate for mental health and supports “To Write Love On Her Arms,” a nonprofit organization that helps people struggling with depression, self-harm, suicide and addiction.
  • Lena Dunham and OCD. The actor, screenwriter, director and producer has been open about her mental health struggles for many years. She wrote a piece for The New Yorker in 2014 outlining her experiences growing up with the condition and what it was like to receive therapy.

Many additional celebrities are raising their voices against stigma. Their accounts are potent reminders about the unique struggles many face on a daily basis. Thankfully, the reports are tearing down barriers and encouraging people to reach out. To learn more about mental health and how we can help, give us a call at give us a call at 877-466-0620..