Mental illness does not discriminate. Anyone, of any background or upbringing, social position or economic status, can struggle with their mental health. There are millions of people throughout the United States facing a mental illness today, including some of the famous names we know very well.
When you are battling with a mental health disorder, it can make you feel like you’re all alone. However, it’s important to know that others out there are walking in similar shoes. In fact, many successful people are living with mental illness – and some are using their platform to normalize mental health problems.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental illness, it can help to look up to others who are facing, but who have learned to manage, mental illness. Despite being in the public eye, many celebrities with mental health issues are living successful and productive lives. To help reduce the stigma around mental illness, and to shine as an example that success is possible, the following celebrities have been outward about their mental health.
- Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato is a well-recognized musician who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in 2011. Bipolar disorder is categorized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs followed by intense depressive episodes. Demi Lovato has long been open about their struggles with depression and how that has spiraled into other forms of mental illness, including substance addiction and disordered eating. In their latest documentary, Demi Lovato revealed the dark days of their drug addiction, which eventually lead to overdose, and their challenging relationship with food, which is an ongoing struggle. However, Demi Lovato has learned to live a fulfilling and healthy life in more recent years. They have also become a key advocate for speaking up about mental health.
Of their recovery, Demi Lovato once explained, “Every day is a battle. You just have to take it one day at a time, some days are easier than others… for me, I work on my physical health, which is important, but my mental health as well.” They continued, “I see a therapist twice a week. I make sure I stay on my medications. I go to AA meetings. I do what I can physically in the gym. I make it a priority.”
In an interview with Women’s Health, Demi Lovato also pronounced, “It’s possible to live well, feel well, and also find happiness with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness [you’re] struggling with.”
- Lady Gaga
Lada Gaga is another famed musician and actor, but many may not know she is also a celebrity mental health advocate. In recent years, Lady Gaga has opened up about her struggles with sexual assault, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At a young age, the star was assaulted repeatedly, but did not always have the tools to process that trauma. She did not have a therapist or psychiatrist, and tried to move on with her life without getting treatment. Eventually, the symptoms resurfaced and lead to intense pains throughout her body, a symptom of PTSD. She also suffers from anxiety and depression, but takes medication to help manage her symptoms.
In an interview with Oprah, Lady Gaga explained, “Medication has helped me tremendously. I take an antipsychotic. [If I didn’t] I would spiral very frequently and I would spasm in my sleep.” She continued, “A lot of people are afraid of medicine for their brains to help them. I really want to erase the stigma around this… so Gen Z does not have to deal with this the way we are right now. Mental health is a crisis.”
In facing mental illness, Lady Gaga has also chosen to use her platform to create change. She created the Born This Way Foundation in 2012, which is dedicated to fostering conversations among youth about mental health, and providing resources for those struggling. In a heartfelt letter posted on the Foundation’s website, Lady Gaga wrote, “There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it’s important that you know that there is hope and a chance for recovery.”
Yungblud is a musician that’s been emerging on the charts for years. Born Dominic Harrison, Yungblud is also an advocate for LGBTQ and underrated youth, as well as a voice for mental health. The musician first publicly revealed his struggles with mental illness back in 2019, noting that he has long struggled with depression and anxiety. For a period of time, the star also contemplated suicide in trying to figure out his place in the spotlight and in life. The star now uses his music to underline his battle, but also to help those who are also simultaneously struggling. He also uses his platform as a famed celebrity to reach fans and followers who struggle in silence, too.
In an Instagram post, Yungblud dedicated a 2020 music video to all those people facing issues with their mental health: “This video is for anyone laying in their bedroom at 4 am wondering why they aren’t good enough.”
Last year, the musician tweeted, “feel your feelings. no matter how big or small they be. if your feeling happy, tell someone, cherish it, you might help them. if you’re feeling sad, tell someone, they might help you. 🖤”
Yungblud also has a podcast, in which he invites friends and family to talk about what is going on in their lives. In some episodes, these conversations lead to talking about mental health. For example, Willow Smith – another up-and-coming musician – revealed her own struggles with mental illness on the Yungblud podcast, detailing anxiety attacks. “My mental health is in a very fragile state, but I think it’s in a state where it’s about to grow in a really awesome way.”
- Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez first entered stardom as a Disney actor, but rose her way to fame as a recognized musician over the years. Today, she is also a mental health advocate by being candid about her own struggles with mental illness. Selena Gomez was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2020. Her symptoms include depression and anxiety, and she has been recently learning to manage those by staying off social media and taking medication, in combination with therapy five times per week.
Gomez started therapy after experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and burnout. She specifically gave credit to dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a type of behavioral therapy used to treat complex mental health conditions, for helping change her life. DBT focuses on counseling (both one-on-one and group sessions), as well as mindfulness to help change negative behaviors and thought patterns.
During an event hosted by MTV, the Mental Health Youth Action Forum, Gomez opened up about her struggles to a live audience. She stated, “Mental health is very personal for me, and I hope that by using my platform to share my own story and working with incredible people like all of you. I can help others feel less alone and find the help they need, which is honestly all I want.”
She continued, “When it comes to talking about and de-stigmatizing mental health, I want to ensure that everyone, no matter their age, their race, religion, sexual orientation, have access to services that support their mental health.”
- Camilla Cabello
Camilla Cabello is known for her breakout song, Havana, but many do not know she also struggles with mental illness. Specifically, the star struggled with “crippling” feelings of anxiety, but was afraid to seek help for some time out of the shame and fear of what others might think. She thought she had to keep it all together, to be a confident pop-star, when on the inside she was struggling.
It was during the making of her latest album, Familia, that the star had a life-changing experience. She decided she no longer had to prove anything to anyone. She did not have to be perfect to be seen. Rather, as cited by a Bustle article, she realized that being seen for her true self would allow her to heal.
In the early days of the pandemic, Cabello started therapy. Since then, she was open about her struggles with anxiety disorder. In a Wall Street Journal essay, she wrote, “My anxiety manifested in the form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD can take many different forms, and for me, it was obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. To put it simply, it made me feel like my mind was playing a cruel trick on me. It affected me physically, too. I couldn’t sleep for a long time, I had a constant knot in my throat, I had chronic headaches, and my body went through what felt like multiple roller-coaster rides every day.”
It was through the help of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, in combination with meditation, self-love, and self-awareness, that Cabello was able to gain back her spark. “For a long time, anxiety felt like it was robbing me of my humor, my joy, my creativity and my trust. But now anxiety and I are good friends. I listen to her, because I know she’s just trying to keep me safe, but I don’t give her too much attention.”
- Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is an American swimmer and the most decorated American Olympian of all time. He is known for breaking records and winning medals, but did you know that he also faces mental illness? Michael Phelps first started struggling with his mental health at a young age, in sixth grade, when he was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
However, Phelps continued to struggle with mental health symptoms into adulthood. For years after his Olympic break in Athens, Phelps lived with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. He also, for a short period, struggled with substance use and received multiple DUIs.
In 2014, Phelps entered therapy. He spent time in an inpatient mental health treatment center, which he then followed with continuing care. That is when he started to see his life turn around.
In an article from Healthline, Michael Phelps is quoted, “I started feeling like a person…I guess I could love myself and like who I saw. I think for a long time I looked at myself as a swimmer and not a human, so being able to learn more about me, how I worked, why I work that way through treatment and through unpacking all the extra crap that I had inside of me.”
It was not easy for Michael Phelps to seek help, due to the stigma around addiction. He explained, “I can speak from an athlete perspective of being a male and an athlete. If I was to speak up during my career, I would feel like it would be a sign of weakness…” He now has a goal of normalizing mental illness and helping people speak up to get help.
Phelps teamed up with Talkspace in 2018 to launch a campaign called the Permission Slip, which is designed to inspire others to speak up about their mental health struggles. The campaign provides people with a symbolic, “mental health permission slip” so that they can take action and get help. According to Healthline, Phelps’ main mission is to spread awareness about mental health and provide others with hope for healing.
There are many celebrities with mental illness, who are now using their platforms to normalize mental health struggles and inspire others to seek help. These are just some examples. Kirsten Dunst, Machine Gun Kelly, Jim Carrey, Chrissy Teigen, and many others also face mental health struggles.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental illness, know that you are not alone. There are others walking in similar shoes. There is help available to you.
If you would like to speak with a mental health specialist or learn about your treatment options, you can always reach out to Turnbridge. Turnbridge is a mental health treatment provider helping teens and young adults overcome mental illness and substance use disorders. Call us at 877-581-1793 today.