5 Celebrities Changing the Conversation about Mental Illness

In May 2016 actress Hayden Panettiere took to Twitter, revealing her struggle with postpartum depression and that she was seeking treatment. The star of TV show “Nashville” twice checked into a facility for treatment of postpartum depression.

She was vocal about her struggle, and moms around the world rejoiced. About 20 percent of new moms experience postpartum depression or related maternal mental health issues. Many wrestle with stigma, shame and guilt, and many do not seek the treatment they need.

The recent death of “Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher has reminded the public about the important role celebrities have in breaking down the barriers surrounding mental illness. Fisher, diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 24, went on to speak publicly about her illness, raising awareness and offering hope to the other 5.7 million adults in the U.S. with bipolar disorder.

A People.com article following her death, quotes Fisher from a “20/20” interview with Diane Sawyer, saying, “I outlasted my problems. I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.”

Some celebrities speak publicly in interviews and on social media about their depression, anxiety, bipolar or any other host of mental health issues. Some write books about their experiences, and others use their celebrity status to form organizations fully dedicated to breaking down the stigma of mental illness.

Actress Glenn Close did that in 2010 when she and her family founded Bring Change 2 Mind, a nonprofit organization built to start the conversation about mental health, and to raise awareness, understanding, and empathy. Close became vocal about mental illness and its impact on families when her sister, Jessie Close, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and her nephew, Calen Pick, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.

The organization has created public service announcements as well as video and social media campaigns (#MindOurFuture and #StrongerThanStigma) encouraging people to speak out about mental illness, break the stigma surrounding it.

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, singer Demi Lovato spoke about her experience with bipolar disorder. “I stand here today as proof that you can live a normal and empowered life with mental illness,” Lovato said.

She has become an advocate for mental health and is a current spokeswoman for the Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health campaign, an initiative encouraging people across America to use their voice in support of mental health

Rapper Kid Cudi last year opened up about his struggles with drugs and depression, penning an open letter on Facebook explaining he was checking himself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges.

Millions of people with mental illness, but many suffer in silence due to stigma. But when a celebrity comes forward to share his or her story, it puts a big crack in that stigma wall. When someone who seems to have everything they could ever want reveals a mental illness, it’s a reminder that mental illness can affect anyone and that talking about it is the first step.

A 2016 USA Today article explores why celebrity accounts of depression are so vital. The article quotes Katrina Gay, national director of communications for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, who says stars who share their experiences present an opportunity to talk about depression on a larger scale.

Gay tells USA Today, “On our Tumblr sites, on our Facebook and Twitter communities, which are communities in their own rights, you’ll see this huge shift, especially with young people and people who are really on the fringes, who are more isolated socially, when they see someone like a Kristen Bell or a Demi Lovato being open, they’re now encouraged to be more open.”

Located right here in Calabasas is a center that understands the changing conversation on mental health. Programs at Balance Treatment Center are leading the way in comprehensive mental health care for both adults and adolescents.

Balance programs include a fully licensed primary mental health residential center located in Calabasas and intensive outpatient programs in both Calabasas and San Luis Obispo.

The Balance team strongly believes that clients are more than their diagnoses. They work with clients suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma and PTSD, as well as substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. But, they go beyond the diagnosis and the symptoms and act to learn who their clients are and what is preventing their growth. With this approach, Balance programs have successfully treated clients with long histories of mental health and substance abuse problems who have cycled in and out of programs and treatment.

The team at Balance believes it’s important to open a dialogue and engage with family members of those suffering. By working together with other professionals in the industry to share innovations and collaborate on ideas, Balance continues the work to end the stigma of mental illness.

For more information, visit them online at BalanceTreatment.com or give them a call at (855) 414-8100.

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