It wasn’t too long ago that celebrities were largely treated as voiceless commodities. If a celeb did happen to step into more serious territory like politics or personal struggles, they were slammed, questioned, and generally shamed into shutting up. And even now, celebs can be chastised if they are deemed “too political.”
Luckily, as social media and a shift in general coverage finally reveal celebs for the three-dimensional people that they’ve always been, this narrative is starting to change. This is why figures like Jane Fonda can talk out about climate change and Taylor Swift can speak out about LGBTQ rights. And among all of these important conversations, mental health is repeatedly coming out as a top concern.
From Selena Gomez’s mental health journey to the struggles of figures like Halsey and Gabrielle Union, it’s no longer a faux pas to talk about personal struggles. In fact, our favorite celebs are actively pushing conversations about mental health across platforms right now, and they’re transforming lives in large and small ways as a result. Here, we’re going to consider why it is that celebrities are finally taking a stand and talking out, and how that helps the nation’s mental health overall.
1. It Normalizes the Subject
In an age where one in four people experience mental illness, you’d assume that normalization was a given. Sadly, while we are on the right track, with 87% of people finally believing that mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, there’s a hell of a long way to go. Many individuals still feel unable to speak out about their mental health struggles, and countless employers still refuse to grant the same healthcare rights for mental health problems.
Luckily, widespread discussions started by iconic celebs like Selena Gomez are proving invaluable for normalization at last. Perhaps, most importantly, these conversations disprove long-held beliefs that mental health is shameful or some sign of failure. The scope of celebrities speaking out about this issue also proves the prevalence of mental illness, highlighting the fact that mental struggles are happening all around us, even if we aren’t aware of them. This, in turn, has the power to educate the nation with regard to what mental health looks like. While normalization is still a long way off, the more celebs that speak out, the closer we’ll get to finally pulling mental health out of the closet.
2. It Encourages People to Seek Treatment
Aside from education, the fact that celebrities are openly talking about their journeys to treatment is encouraging more people than ever to seek options that they might not have even been aware of otherwise. On a fundamental level, and somewhat in keeping with the theme of normalization, hearing our role models talk about symptoms and the first steps toward treatment could help people who are struggling to recognize their need for treatment in the first place.
More specifically, whether talking about therapy or using medication, celebrities are driving awareness regarding treatment options and their potential outcomes. Obviously, it’s important to remember that celebrities aren’t healthcare professionals. However, they can tell us about their experiences, and open conversations with our healthcare providers about whether those options would work for us. This could potentially lead to innovative treatments that would’ve been off the table otherwise.
3. It Offers Support
Isolation is a huge contributor to escalating mental health problems, especially as individuals continue to suffer in silence. As such, while the law of averages suggests that at least a few individuals in any social group are likely to experience mental illness, it’s all too easy to assume otherwise. For individuals in the thick of such struggles, this can create a real sense of being alone in these experiences, and that can hinder or altogether prevent the quest for treatment, as well as worsen the problem.
When figures in the public eye are open about their experiences, however, it provides invaluable support that many individuals don’t have access to otherwise. This can drastically minimize those feelings of isolation by making it clear that people from all walks of life experience these issues, and that they’re able to come through them smiling and striving for change.
Are celebrities single-handedly solving the mental crisis? Of course not. But, they’re certainly paving a positive path for change in a topic that’s needed a shake-up for far too long. And, right now, we think that’s good enough to get improvements rolling at long last.
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