Mental illness can happen to anyone, no matter their age, background, or socioeconomic status. Millions of people – an estimated 20 percent of U.S. adults, and 17 percent of youth – are diagnosed with a mental illness each year. Even more are struggling with mental health issues, but afraid to ask for help.
Mental illness carries a certain stigma which makes it hard to talk about. There are many misconceptions around mental health disorders, and as a result, those struggling will often face judgement, harassment, disappointment, or rejection from those who do not understand. It’s time we break this stigma, normalize mental health conversations, and increase advocacy for those in need.
Many celebrities have already taken strides in doing so. These celebrities are using their platforms to increase awareness and educate the greater public about mental health conditions. Because the truth is, mental health is ever-important to our overall health, and people are struggling all around us. Your family member, friend, neighbor, or colleague may be facing a mental health disorder that you don’t know about. Mental illness is a silent disease, meaning it is not always recognizable and, as a result, people too often struggle in isolation.
Fortunately, times are changing. People are taking positive actions to increase awareness about mental health. And when more people talk about mental health, it becomes easier for those struggling to get the help they need.
In light of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, here are some notable celebrity mental health advocates who have recently shared their stories with the world.
- Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez had a quick rise to fame, from PBS to Disney channel, to becoming an adored and award-winning pop artist around the world. Over those years, however, Gomez struggled with issues like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and more recently, a bipolar diagnosis. She details these in her documentary “My Mind & Me” which was released in November 2022.
However, Gomez has been open about her mental health struggles for years. She’s even won awards, such as the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion, for bringing awareness to mental health. She’s hosted many conversations with mental health experts, as well as promoted campaigns to help reduce the stigma around mental illness.
In April 2021, for example, Gomez launched a campaign called ‘Mental Health 101’ through her company, Rare Beauty. In posting about the campaign, she said:
“I know firsthand how scary and lonely it can feel to face anxiety and depression by yourself at a young age. If I had learned about my mental health earlier on — been taught about my condition in school that way I was taught about other subjects — my journey could have looked very different. The world needs to know that mental health matters. It’s just as important as your physical health, and I wish we could all acknowledge that, not just in words but through our actions.”
- Meghan Markle
Many people may know that Meghan Markle has struggled in her rise to royalty, facing judgment and rejection from family members and society. However, she has become increasingly open about the mental health struggles she has faced as a result. She first opened up about her mental health journey during an interview with Oprah in 2021, where she disclosed having suicidal thoughts at one point in her life. But she has also shared her pathway to coping with and overcoming those negative thought patterns. At the Ripple of Hope Awards Gala in 2022, she advocated:
“We all need to, when we can, if we feel brave enough, to just speak honestly about your own experience. It gives other people space and the courage to do the same, but more than that, to really feel like you’re not alone. Because I think that is often what can be the largest hindrance when you feel that way, you don’t see a way out.”
She continued, “That’s why I made the decision to just say ‘if my experience can help someone else not feel the same way or to know that there’s hope, then it’s worth every second of whatever comes with it.’”
- Ryan Reynolds
You may know Ryan Reynolds as a fun-loving actor who thrives in the comedy world. What many may not know, however, is that he’s also struggled with some social anxiety. In a 2022 interview with NPR, Reynolds admitted that he would “much rather have a kind of persona take over than, you know, have to sort of suffer through any sort of social interaction alone, in the naked light of day.” He further explained that he, as early as child, would hide behind self-deprecating humor to get through difficult interactions.
Ryan Reynolds really opened up about his anxiety in the past couple of years, inspired by his family. With three daughters looking up to him, he realized he had to model behaviors in parenthood. With that comes modeling behaviors like being sad, being anxious, and being angry—and creating space for those feelings. Reynolds says that talking openly about mental health is another way to create that space.
“Part of that is to destigmatize things and create a conversation around [mental health]… I know that when I felt at the absolute bottom, it’s usually been because I felt like I was alone in something I was feeling. So I think when people talk about it, I don’t necessarily dwell on it or lament on it, but I think it’s important to talk about it. And when you talk about it, it kind of sets other people free.”
- Ariana Grande
Beyond breaking records, this award-winning singer songwriter has also become a celebrity mental health advocate. Over the years, Ariana Grande has endured a lot of trauma (such as the death of her ex, Mac Miller) and has continuously been open about her struggles. She has disclosed her battle with anxiety, and how it has interfered with her ability and willingness to perform.
She also shared her brain scans following a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) diagnosis, following a terrorist attack at her Manchester, England concert in 2017. She shared these scans to spread awareness about the effects that mental illness can have on the brain, explaining, “I found it informative and interesting and wanted to encourage ya’ll to make sure you check on your brains/ listen to your bodies/ take care of yourselves too.”
Ariana Grande has also been open about her journey through therapy, once commenting on Instagram: “In all honesty therapy has saved my life so many times. if you’re afraid to ask for help, don’t be. u don’t have to be in constant pain & u can process trauma. i’ve got a lot of work to do but it’s a start to even be aware that it’s possible.”
- Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”)
Dwayne Johnson, commonly known as “The Rock,” is the epitome of strength. What many may not know, however, is that he too is vulnerable to mental health struggles. During an interview with People magazine in 2021, Johnson disclosed his battle against depression. Further, he underlined the importance of talking about it. He explained:
“I feel like the most important thing, obviously, is communicating and realizing that asking for help when you’re down and you’re feeling wobbly, or when you’re depressed, is actually the most powerful thing you can do. Asking for help is not a weakness. As a matter of fact, asking for help is our superpower, and men, especially us, we fall into this trap of being really adverse to vulnerability, because we always want to be strong and feel like we can take on the world.”
In truth, Johnson says, talking about mental health and asking for help can make you stronger. He further reiterated this in a recent interview with Men’s Health: “I’m a big advocate for asking for help. Also, I’ve lost friends who checked out and ended their lives because they didn’t want to ask for help. So you gotta communicate. You gotta ask for help. There’s no shame in that.”
- Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is perhaps one of the more recognized celebrity mental health advocates, particularly since she started the Born This Way Foundation to help those struggling with mental illness. The widely-known pop star has suffered from anxiety and depression for years, but uses her platform to show others that they are not alone. Her work is dedicated to de-stigmatizing mental illness, showing that it can happen to anyone and that there is no shame in it.
In 2015, during a Billboard interview, Lady Gaga explained, “I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day. I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal.”
In a more recent interview with Oprah, the star also pushed the public to see that mental health is a real crisis and a real medical condition. “”Mental health is a medical condition. It should be treated as a medical condition. It should not be ignored,” she said, further encouraging those who are struggling to see a mental health treatment professional. In this same interview, Gaga credited “medicine, therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive therapy,” as well as transcendental meditation, and daily exercise as ways of helping her regulate negative thoughts and behavior patterns.
- Pete Davidson
Pete Davidson is another star who, known for his dark humor, has a natural talent for making people laugh. But Davidson has not lived the most happy or healthy life. In fact, he has been very open about his mental health struggles over the years—particularly since losing his father in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Pete Davidson has revealed in interviews that he’s been in and out of mental health treatment since a young age, and has had several suicidal attempts over the years. He has struggled with intense depression, substance abuse, PTSD, and eventually was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at age 23. After receiving this diagnosis, Davidson felt like a weight was lifted off his shoulders. Like he had an explanation. Now, he is encouraging others to seek the help they need.
“Everybody is different, and there are a lot of treatments for mental illnesses and I have done/am doing all of them,” he wrote back in 2018. “And I encourage those who struggle to seek help as well; it has changed my life for the better.”
In another Instagram post, he wrote, “Mental illness is not a joke, it’s a real thing… For all those struggling[,] I want you to know that I love you and I understand you and it is going to be okay. That’s all.”
These are just some of the many celebrities who are advocating for mental health, and promoting more open conversations about mental illness every day. Other famous mental health advocates that you may know about include Olivia Rodrigo, Demi Lovato, Chrissy Teigen, Megan Thee Stallion, Justin Bieber, and many more.
And, if you are in need of treatment, you can always reach out to Turnbridge for support. Turnbridge is a recognized mental health treatment provider for adolescents and young adults struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD, BPD, substance abuse, and more. Call us at 877-581-1793 if you’re seeking guidance or support for your (or your loved one’s) mental health.