What Celebrities Can Teach Us About Mental Illness

Emily Fergusonon 26 September 2018
What Celebrities Can Teach Us About Mental Illness

Mental illness affects pretty much everyone, either directly or indirectly, at some point in their lives. This includes celebrities, who we so often assume due to their status, are immune to the same struggles as everyone else. They're not, and this article explains why celebrities continuing to raise awareness of mental illness is helping everyone who suffers.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) mental illness will affect one in four people in the world at some point in their lives, with around 450 million people currently suffering from such conditions. As a result of this high prevalence, mental health problems are one of the main causes of disability worldwide. Such high statistics are not limited to the stereotypical mentally ill that you see in films, but friends, family, colleagues and even celebrities. But what can high profile cases of mental illness actually show us, other than proving that celebrity lifestyles are not as glamorous as we might think?

If you or someone you know needs any help with a mental illness, helplines and contact numbers are provided at the bottom of this article.

Logo for the mental health charity, Mind
Source: Mind

In recent months, the news has been filled with celebrities who have suffered from episodes of debilitating mental illness. Whilst these real-life stories are extremely personal and upsetting, it goes to show that even people that we idolise, Ant McPartlin, Demi Lovato and Serena Williams, are not immune to the horrors of mental illness.

The publicity that these celebrities have given to their own plights with mental health problems is something that should be celebrated. It brings mental illness into the public eye, it helps to start a conversation and show that mental illness, in whatever form, should not be something to hide behind – mental health is real, it is normal and can happen to any one of us at any point of our lives. No matter how successful you perceive someone to be, or how happy he or she appears on the outside, mental illness can affect us all.

Numerous celebrities are starting a conversation about their own personal problems with mental health, which is needed in a society that continues to shy away from the rise of mental illness. Demi Lovato has become iconic for her mental health activism, who herself suffers with bipolar disorder and substance abuse. In July of this year, it was reported that Lovato was hospitalised after a drug overdose. This story, covered by news outlets across the globe, further pushed the topic of mental illness into the public eye. Her fans were quick to defend and support her, with the news of her relapse showing just how hard it is to overcome substance abuse.

Let’s not forget the tragic suicide of infamous DJ, Avicii. The Swedish music producer took his own life this year after struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and anxiety for most of his life. Avicii’s passing should be mourned and used to further raise concerns about mental health and suicide, especially in men – with suicide being the single biggest killer of males aged under 45 in the UK.

As well as the high profile cases of suicide, relapse and life-long battles with mental illness that are published in the media, other celebrities have chosen to become advocates of mental health activism by drawing from their own experiences. Ryan Reynolds, Lady Gaga, Zayn Malik, Kendall Jenner, Serena Williams, are but a few of the hundreds of well-known faces who have started to open up discussions of mental illness. These dialogues should be celebrated and embraced, as it encourages others, especially young adults, to talk about their own experiences battling mental illness. Depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia and thousands more mental conditions should not be something to be ashamed of or seen as a normal part of day-to-day life that should go untreated. Mental illness is an illness like any other, and these celebrities are helping to show that it can happen to anyone – and it should be spoken about.

Advert from the charity samaritans
Source: Samaritans

If you or anyone that you know is struggling with a mental illness, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Here are some resources that are available to you:

  • Mind: 0300 123 3393 - This line is open 9am-6pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays). They can talk to you and help you access support in your area.
  • Samaritans: 116 123 - This line is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It's free to call and they stress that you don't have to be suicidal to call and can ring any time you're feeling down.
  • You could also approach a family or friend who you trust, your local GP, or your university welfare services.

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Emily Fergusonon 26 September 2018