Celebrities with Mental Health Issues… and What They Can Teach Us
Published By Justin Baksh, LMHC, MCAP
September 10, 2023
In recent years, more and more celebrities have stepped forward to share their personal mental health struggles, breaking down barriers and diminishing stigma surrounding these issues. By candidly discussing their own struggles, famous figures are helping to create an open dialogue, encouraging others to face their mental health challenges head-on and fostering a supportive community. Their stories are inspiring countless individuals worldwide to prioritize self-care and well-being.
In a May 2023 interview with People magazine, Demi Lovato opened up about her bipolar diagnosis. The singer expressed relief upon receiving the diagnosis, as it helped explain the emotions she had experienced throughout her life.
“I was so relieved that I had finally had a diagnosis. I had spent so many years struggling, and I didn’t know why I was a certain way in dealing with depression at such extreme lows, when I seemingly had the world in front of me just ripe with opportunities.”
She recalls struggling with depression during her career, even amidst fame and success, and not understanding why.
Demi first revealed her bipolar diagnosis in 2011, during her treatment for anorexia and bulimia. Since then, she has been open about her mental health struggles and aims to use her platform to help others going through similar challenges.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN: Lovato emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about mental health and wants to break the stigma surrounding the topic.
“I think it’s very important that people raise the importance of mental health because it’s something that’s so taboo to talk about,” she told People. “”The more people know about it, the more people are going to be able to find solutions to what they’re going through.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
In a recent appearance on ‘The Pivot’, Dwayne Johnson opened up about his struggles with mental health. He shared his experiences with depression, revealing that he went through three bouts of depression at different points in his life. Johnson admitted that in the past, he didn’t fully understand mental health struggles and, like many men, kept his feelings to himself.
However, after losing two friends to suicide, he realized the importance of talking to someone about these issues and emphasized that one is never alone in their struggles.
He recalled his first experience with depression during his time as a student at the University of Miami and later faced two other low periods, one during a divorce. In 2017, he encountered another difficult time but knew what it was and had supportive friends to lean on.
Johnson highlighted that having people to rely on and being a father to his three daughters has been crucial in coping with these challenging moments.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN: Throughout the years, Johnson has worked hard to develop emotional tools to manage his mental health struggles. He has been candid about the impact of his mother’s suicide attempt on him as well. By speaking openly about his own experiences, he hopes to raise awareness about mental health and encourage others to seek help if needed.
Lady Gaga has done so much to bring mental health to the spotlight. For one, she has revealed that she struggled with self-harm as a child. Now, she is working to help other people who are struggling with the same issue.
The feature film, The Power of Kindness, documents her journey and the work she is doing to help others. The film, which was released by Born This Way Foundation, consists of Lady Gaga and 11 inspiring young individuals discussing the importance of kindness to themselves and others.
In the film, Lady Gaga shares her coping mechanisms for difficult days when it’s hard to be kind to herself. She emphasizes the importance of behavior and skills in navigating those moments and learning to love herself. Participants in the film discuss their personal journeys with mental health and emphasize the vital connection between kindness and mental well-being.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN: Lady Gaga creates a “safe space” for everyone to share and emphasizes that she, too, is on a mental health journey with her film as well with her Born This Way Foundation, co-founded with her mother. She believes kindness is vital for mental health and encourages everyone to view her as a participant in this journey. A Born This Way Foundation survey confirmed this, highlighting the positive impact of kindness on mental wellness, including increased feelings of safety, confidence, and connectedness.
In his memoir, Spare, Prince Harry opens up about his struggle with agoraphobia, a disorder causing intense fear in certain situations, including crowds, He recalls nearly fainting during a speech that couldn’t be avoided.
His brother, Prince William, had previously advocated for men’s mental health through the Heads Together charity, focusing on breaking that stigma surrounding mental health and promoting open discussions.
Harry sought therapy upon Williams’ suggestion, which led to a disconnect within his family. He now values therapy immensely and credits it with helping him process anger and frustration, preventing potentially harmful reactions.
Harry also discusses his realization of a difficult childhood and adult life, including a sometimes abusive upbringing and public scrutiny. While talking about his experiences has helped him, sharing his mental health struggles has led to mixed reactions, with some questioning his motivations.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN: One of Prince Harry’s goals in sharing is removing the stigma surrounding mental health requires more than starting conversations; it involves reckoning with where those conversations lead. While Harry’s public disclosures might be discomforting to some, they serve as a way for him to confront his past and work towards healing.
Emma Stone, the award-winning actress, has been open about her struggles. She experienced anxiety and panic attacks from a young age, recalling a childhood incident when she was convinced a friend’s house was on fire, even though it wasn’t.
Despite dealing with anxiety for years, she found that using those intense feelings actually helped her in her acting career, allowing her to channel emotions into her performances.
Stone has sought various tools to manage her anxiety throughout adulthood. She finds exercise, particularly dance, to be helpful in calming her mind and reducing anxiety.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN: Through her successful acting career, Stone aims to show others that it is possible to lead fulfilling lives even while struggling with mental health challenges.
She views those with anxiety and depression as highly sensitive and intelligent individuals. Instead of letting these conditions cripple them, she believes they can use their heightened awareness to achieve great things.
Stone hopes to inspire others by sharing her experiences and encouraging them to pursue their dreams and form meaningful connections despite their struggles with mental health.
Selena Gomez has been very open about her mental health struggles for many years.
After being diagnosed with Lupus in 2014, she entered therapy for anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Since then, she has voluntarily participated in various mental health programs.
In April 2020, she revealed that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, expressing that understanding her diagnosis has helped alleviate fear.
Gomez has used her platform to bring attention to mental health. Through discussions with experts, she has been shedding light on various issues.
She was an executive producer on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, and, during that time, she was particularly outspoken about the real life difficulties faced by today’s youth.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gomez continued to speak out about the importance of staying on top of our mental health.
She discussed her feelings of loneliness during lockdown, during an Instagram Live with Dr. Vivek Murthy. Murthy emphasized the significance of sharing one’s feelings and serving others, highlighting that it can help shift focus from oneself to positive interactions and reaffirm the value we bring to the world.
You Are Not Alone
The active involvement of celebrities in raising awareness about mental health plays a crucial role in supporting those struggling with mental illness. Their influential status amplifies the message, helps break down stigmas, and encourages open conversations about mental health.
As a result, people who face these challenges find it easier to seek help, foster coping strategies, and work towards improving their well-being. The collective effort from high-profile individuals creates a more empathetic and understanding society – one that is better equipped to address the ongoing challenges surrounding mental illness.
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Shares How He’s Struggled with Depression Throughout His Life. (2023, May 15). Men’s Health.
- Emma Stone Swears by These Strategies for Managing Anxiety. (n.d.). Shape.
- Hearon, S. (2022, February 3). Selena Gomez Shares Her Tips to Stop “Intrusive Thoughts.” Us Weekly.
- Wolfson, S. (2023, January 13). Harry wanted men to talk about their problems. Now therapy has been weaponized against him. The Guardian.