Do Celebrities Help Break Mental Health Stigma?
Although mental health issues are a common problem in the U.S. there still remains a significant stigma surrounding disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and many other problems. People find it hard to open up about their struggles with mental health and may even avoid getting treatment because they fear being judged by others. However, in recent years more celebrities have told stories about their personal struggles with mental health which many believe helps the public become more comfortable about dealing with their own issues.
There are different opinions regarding the effectiveness of celebrities breaking down the mental health stigma in this country. While some may feel that any kind of public story can be useful in reaching out to people that feel isolated and ashamed of their problems, others feel that celebrity stories may not be relatable enough. A high profile celebrity lives in a very different world than the average person struggling with depression or anxiety and some people feel that this makes celebrity stories less effective for people with everyday problems.
There are many aspects to mental health issues that need to be addressed and although celebrities may be making some positive change, there is more work to be done in breaking down the stigma. Mental health is a topic that people rarely discuss in their daily lives and it is important for the average person to overcome their fears of opening up about their own disorder. Celebrity stories may not help everyone but they do make it possible for mental health to become a more public issue.
Celebrities and Mental Health
While celebrities lead lives that seem distant from ours, their public discussion of mental health can be inspiring for some. Mental health still remains a taboo topic and rarely gets media attention in spite of the millions of people suffering from mental health problems every day. Celebrity disclosures can help get more media attention on mental health and open up discussions about certain topics that may otherwise be ignored.
Some of the criticisms of celebrity disclosures however is that they have a very different experience of mental illness than the average American. A celebrity is less likely to end up jobless, homeless or become socially marginalized due to their mental illness. These are situations someone in a different social status may have to face while a celebrity will be applauded for their honesty.
Celebrities may also have easier access to high quality treatment, life coaches and others options that may allow them to become stable more quickly. The average person may have barriers to treatment such as being put on a waitlist, not being able to afford care or having to choose a more affordable program that may not offer as many services. A celebrity will usually have no problem paying for treatment and get the best care possible.
Drawing Attention to Mental Health Issues
Although celebrities may have an easier time with recovery and their issues may not be as severe in many cases, their ability to bring these issues to the public eye may still be valuable. Mental health issues of any kind are often shrouded in shame and secrecy in a way that can stop people from seeking the help they need. If someone hears a celebrity speak about their struggles with depression or any other disorder they may feel less alone in their problems.
When celebrities talk about their mental health issues it brings to light the fact that people from all walks of life can be diagnosed with a disorder. Even highly successful, creative people can become ill in spite of all that they have achieved in life. Understanding this can help spread the notion that mental illness is not an individual failing or weakness but a disease that can happen to anyone.
Celebrities also offer a perspective counter to the many news stories or movies which may sensationalize mental illness as leading to violence and crime. People in Hollywood with mental illnesses can still function, contribute to society and remain highly competent in their field. When the average person sees this it may give them hope that they can be open about their problem, seek help and still lead a normal life.
Even though some people may believe that celebrity disclosures about mental illness are not relatable enough, the reality is that they can do some good in many cases. With the stigma surrounding mental illness any kind of disclosure is brave and heroic no matter who the person is and it can inspire others to do the same. The more personal stories come to light, the more people will feel comfortable sharing their issues publicly and start to overcome their fears about being judged.
Mental health stigma is a problem that needs to be addressed and celebrities are doing their part in any way they can.