Selena Gomez is known (and loved) for her many talents. She is widely recognized for her acting and singing careers. More recently, however, she also became an executive producer of the hit series Only Murders in the Building (2021), and an entrepreneur with the launch of her company, Rare Beauty, in 2020. In addition to wearing all these hats, Selena Gomez is also an incredible mental health advocate, and in turn a role model for young people around the globe.
When we say “mental health advocate,” we mean that Selena Gomez uses her platform to spread awareness about—and reduce the stigma around—mental health disorders. She has been unapologetically transparent about her own struggles with mental health, and by doing so, hopes to create space for open and honest conversations about mental illness.
In fact, Selena Gomez released her documentary, My Mind & Me, in 2022 to share her story and ignite this dialogue. The documentary explores her dark experiences in the limelight, the unexpected turn her life took after being diagnosed with Lupus, and most recently, her grapple with bipolar disorder and anxiety. In an interview with Fast Company, Gomez explained, “I wanted there to be a conversation started. I wasn’t ashamed, and I wanted it to lead to something healing.”
Selena Gomez’s History of Mental Health Struggles
In 2014, Selena Gomez was diagnosed with Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain throughout the body. After undergoing multiple tests, Gomez also learned she had Lupus Arthritis, a common complication of the disease that eventually led to a life or death situation for the artist. She needed a kidney transplant in 2017.
Now, you may be thinking, what does her physical health have to do with her mental health? Well, especially for Gomez, the two are closely tied. Lupus flare-ups can be triggered by ongoing stress, overworking, and not enough rest. Being a star since childhood, there was a lot of pressure and stress in her life from an early age. She explained to Fast Company:
“I had a responsibility at a very young age – young people were looking up to me.” At the same time, however, she says, “I didn’t know who I was. Having that responsibility would make me walk on eggshells a lot. I thought maybe it would be damaging to tell people who I am. It started to become a threat that freaked me out. Well, if you’re not right, then you can’t work.”
While her fast rise to stardom is not necessarily what caused her Lupus, it is possible that the constant stressors she faced triggered her initial symptoms. On top of this, it triggered feelings of inadequacy, fear, anxiety, and panic for the young star, who was forced into being a role model as a teenage girl.
Like anyone would, Selena Gomez also had trouble coping with her Lupus diagnosis and the subsequent pain from it. She sought mental health treatment in 2014 after her diagnosis, and has since continued to commit to therapy (multiple times per week) to manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Selena Gomez Struggles With Bipolar Disorder
While she has long been open about her mental health journey, it wasn’t until 2020, during an Instagram Live with Miley Cyrus, that Selena Gomez revealed she was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Inspired by the pandemic (and the toll it took on everyone’s mental health), Selena Gomez shared:
“Recently, I went to one of the best mental hospitals,” she said, referring to McLean Hospital, “and I discussed that, after years of going through a lot of different things, I realized that I was bipolar. And so, when I got to know more information, it actually helps me. It doesn’t scare me once I know it and I think people get scared of that…I wanted to know everything about it and it took the fear away.”
Gomez believes that her diagnosis was an important milestone in her life. While bipolar disorder does not define her, having it formally diagnosed was definitive for her. She finally had answers. She had a reason or rationale for the way she’d been feeling. And this is true for many people diagnosed with mental illness—which is why mental health evaluations are so important.
“I felt like once I found out what was going on mentally, I found that there was more freedom for me to be okay with what I had because I was learning about it,” she revealed at Mental Health Youth Action Forum in May 2022.
For this reason, Selena Gomez hopes to educate others about mental illness by sharing her journey. She says, “Bringing attention to mental health through media or just by talking about your journeys can help.”
The now 31-year-old star knows that mental health is a journey, and that there is always going to be ups and downs in her life, just like anyone’s. But she always aims to find the silver linings throughout her struggles. For Selena Gomez, her silver lining is that she is now able to help people through her platform.
“I remind myself that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the psychotic break, if it wasn’t for my lupus, if it wasn’t for my diagnosis. I think I would just probably be another annoying entity that just wants to wear nice clothes all the time. I’m depressed thinking about who I would be.”
She told an audience at the White House: “Mental health is very personal for me… 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.”
How Selena Gomez Prioritizes Her Mental Health
As noted above, Selena Gomez is very focused on her healing – which means going to therapy, multiple times per week. In fact, the artist credits therapy for saving her life. She specifically felt that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was a key driving factor in her healing journey:
“DBT has completely changed my life,” she told Vogue. This type of therapy is commonly applied to help young adults and teenagers struggling with mood disorders. Its goal is to change destructive thought patterns and behaviors, by emphasizing mindfulness, emotional regulation, and stress management.
Selena Gomez is an advocate for attending therapy, whether or not you have a mental illness, you can reap its benefits. Especially for young women, who grow up facing a lot of pressures and societal expectations. She said, “I wish more people would talk about therapy. We girls, we’re taught to be almost too resilient, to be strong and sexy and cool and laid-back, the girl who’s down. We also need to feel allowed to fall apart.”
On top of engagement in therapy, Selena Gomez is also focused on self-care – and specifically, caring for her mental well-being. She takes breaks from social media, to remove herself from toxicity and comparisons, and sets boundaries for herself. She also recognizes the importance of balance and saying “no.” She told Business of Fashion, “I have to take care of myself and not feel guilty about it. I will say no when I need to say no, and I will make sure that I will not overdo everything because I feel like, if I don’t accept everything that’s happening, then maybe it seems like I’m ungrateful, or I’m not doing enough. I just have to take care of myself. Therapy, faith, hard work, kindness. That’s it.”
She encourages everyone to do the same and, particularly for those struggling with mental health symptoms, to seek supportive services. Help is out there for those experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety, trauma, or other mental health related symptoms. Her goal is to ensure everyone, no matter their background, has access to those treatment services.
During the Mental Health Youth Action Forum in May 2022, Selena also said: “I want to ensure that everyone—no matter their age, their race, religion, sexual orientation—has access for services that support their mental health. And I want to challenge other businesses and individuals to make a difference in the world by taking action to de-stigmatize mental health. We need as much help as we can possibly get developing resources and services and increasing access to those services for young people.”
Selena Gomez also called on loved ones to take action. For those who know and love someone who is struggling with a mental illness, she encourages them to reach out. Do not let a loved one struggle in silence. She says, “Start with listening. One of the key components of a friendship for me is trust. I would also say: Be careful with who you trust. Hopefully someone can just hear you out and not judge you. I believe in unconditional love and that if you can’t be your authentic self, maybe you shouldn’t be around those people.”
Help Your Loved One Today
If you are concerned about a loved one struggling with a mental health disorder, the best thing you can do right now is to be their support system—their shoulder to lean on. They may need you to help them access the treatment services they need.
And if it is you that is struggling with mental illness, know that you are not alone. Anyone, of any age and background, can struggle with these issues. Millions of people do, including celebrities like Selena Gomez. Know that there are resources available.
Turnbridge is just one call away. We are a recognized mental health treatment center specialized in helping young people recover and live productive lives. Contact us at 877-581-1793 to learn more about our mental health treatment programs for young men and women.