Celebri­ties bring aware­ness to men­tal health is­sues

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

NEW YORK » Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has dis­cussed his bat­tle with de­pres­sion. Mariah Carey recently re­vealed she has bipo­lar dis­or­der. Prince Harry said he needed coun­sel­ing to deal with years of grief and anger fol­low­ing the death of his mother, Princess Diana. And “Dead­pool” star Ryan Reynolds has ac­knowl­edged deal­ing with anx­i­ety dis­or­der.

As the stigma sur­round­ing men­tal ill­ness has de­clined in re­cent years, so has the re­luc­tance many have had to dis­cuss their own men­tal health is­sues, in­clud­ing celebri­ties. It’s be­come the new norm for stars to di­vulge vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties once kept closely guarded.

“I think any­body talk­ing about it will help des­tig­ma­tize it over time, but I think in par­tic­u­lar celebri­ties or sports celebri­ties, if they have a plat­form and they’ve gone through any kind of is­sue with men­tal health, it’s good for them to share their sto­ries, if they’re com­fort­able with it,” Johnson said in a re­cent in­ter­view.

“For me as a guy, you know, I strug­gled a long time with not only my bouts of de­pres­sion that I’ve had, but also things that have hap­pened to me early on when I was a teenager, that col­ored me as an adult. But I strug­gled a long time just to ex­press my­self,” he said.

Reynolds echoed that sen­ti­ment at the Mon­day pre­miere of “Dead­pool 2,” where he ex­plained to The As­so­ci­ated Press why he went pub­lic about hav­ing anx­i­ety dis­or­der.

“Talk­ing about it for me has helped in some ways,” Reynolds said. “In this age of toxic mas­culin­ity, there’s a lot of dudes out there that have a ten­dency to sort of bot­tle it up and keep it in, and think that they just sort of — they’ve got to be a tough guy and sol­dier on. But that’s not nec­es­sar­ily true.”

Last year, Prince Harry was lauded for re­veal­ing he sought help to deal with his emo­tions fol­low­ing his mother’s death when he was a child. He strug­gled with anx­i­ety, grief and rage and said he was close to a break­down sev­eral times.

Diane Hughes is a pro­fes­sor of Ap­plied Psy­chol­ogy at New York Univer­sity, spe­cial­iz­ing in ado­les­cent de­vel­op­ment. She sees great value in celebri­ties and sports fig­ures talk­ing about their strug­gles, past and present.

“I think there is a ben­e­fit to it be­cause it helps de-stig­ma­tize it and to nor­mal­ize it a lit­tle bit,” Hughes said.

She added: “There’s a lot of stigma at­tached to men­tal health is­sues, es­pe­cially among teenagers be­cause ado­les­cents are con­stantly com­par­ing them­selves to their peers and are very self-con­scious and wor­ry­ing, (thus) cre­at­ing a stigma to men­tal ill­ness and help seek­ing.”

That’s why the Child Mind In­sti­tute, which pro­vides men­tal health ser­vices to chil­dren and fam­i­lies, enlisted the help of dozens of celebri­ties for its new cam­paign called #MyYoungerSelf for May, which is Men­tal Health Aware­ness Month. It asks celebri­ties what they would tell the younger ver­sion of them­selves.

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