BY SASHEEN JOSEPH
Being famous isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. That’s not to say that starring in a movie or performing in front of millions of fans isn’t worth it, but sometimes the limelight turns a little sour.
Celebrities are known for hiding their struggles and only sharing what their audience wants to see. But recently, more and more celebrities are becoming increasingly open on social media and television about their low points. This becoming more common would benefit not only these celebrities, but many other people.
Being in the spotlight and dealing with everything that comes with it can take an immense toll on one’s mental health. Whether it be the lack of privacy, loss of their sense of sense or the constant effort to stay relevant, the consequences of fame can cause many celebrities to develop mental health related issues such as substance abuse, anxiety and depression.
For example, pop singer Britney Spears and her infamous meltdown occurred primarily because of substance abuse. The public blow up included shaving her own head and attacking a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella. In the days following the incident, Spears entered a rehabilitation program. Throughout Spears’ struggle with substance abuse, she had to face a divorce and a custody battle with her children, but what ultimately drove Spears to this point was a result of her fame.
Paparazzi were constantly following Spears and her children at a degree that left no privacy. Spears grew up in the public eye and was constantly subjected to scrutiny on the way she looked and acted. There was no space for her to live a happy and healthy life. This is not the only time fame has negatively impacted a celebrity’s life.
Being in the spotlight and dealing with everything that comes with it can take an immense toll on one’s mental health.
Singer and actress Selena Gomez publicly spoke about her struggles with mental health at We Day California, a conference to empower and inspire young people.
“I’m surrounded by people who are supposed to guide me, and some of them have, and others haven’t. They pressure me,” Gomez said. “There’s so much pressure. You gotta be sexy, you gotta be cute, you gotta be nice. You gotta be all these things.”
Gomez’s speech is just one example of the many celebrities opening a conversation about mental health. In fact, actresses Gina Rodriguez and Taraji P. Henson have become advocates for mental health awareness.
“Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez spoke strongly during an interview about how she wants to use her platform to share her experiences with depression and anxiety to let others know they’re not alone.
“It opened a pathway to allow me to talk about it freely, to seek help, to be unafraid,” Rodriguez said.
Henson is also very active in the mental health conversation. Henson established the Boris Lawrence Henson foundation with the purpose of eradicating the stigma around mental health, specifically in the African American community.
“I’m here to appeal to you because this is a national crisis…”Actress Taraji P. Henson
Henson spoke in April at the Congressional Black Caucus about the effects of social media, gun violence and the lack of mental health education in the black community specifically.
“I’m here to appeal to you because this is a national crisis,” Henson said. “I am here using my celebrity, using my voice, to put a face to this, because I also suffer from depression and anxiety.”
Mental health is not a topic that is commonly talked about publicly in our society, and it also has a negative association with it. The word “mental” itself is often used as a synonym for crazy. In that sense, many people are far more hesitant to involve themselves in this conversation for fear of being seen as “mental.”
If celebrities publicly discuss mental health, they have the power to eliminate the stigma around this topic. Since celebrities are often admired by many, and being open about their own struggles gives comfort to others in the sense that it shows no one is immune to everyday emotional struggles.
When it comes to celebrities and mental health, it is necessary for them to continue conversations about the subject. Sending their message to others suffering with similar issues can make them feel understood and hopeful.
Photo courtesy of Alex Wong