Celebrities and mental health

A guest post by Fonda Bryant

Ever since the death of Patty Duke in March of 2016 and Carrie Fisher in December of 2016, I have been wondering, "who was going to step up and be the next Celebrity Super Advocate for Mental Health?" In other words, "Who will be the next celebrity to truly do more than just talk about their mental condition and be more like Patty and Carrie, not letting stigma keep them from being around people like themselves, fighting a mental condition daily?" Both Patty and Carrie were celebrities with Patty's career spanning over 55 years and Carrie's 47.

Despite all the fame and accolades that each actress received, both women were mental health advocates and truly cared about helping others like themselves. Patty and Carrie seemed to have been a rare breed in the entertainment industry by being around everyday people who had a mental condition. Neither one were uncomfortable going around everyday people that were struggling with mental health or addiction issues. They talked about their mental health issues but they also knew it wasn't just enough to talk, they knew they had to be about ACTION in order to make a real difference.

Emerging as a STAR mental health advocate and starting to make a dent in the stigma surrounding mental health is Mayim Bialik, the actress from the Big Bang Theory. Like myself, she is a member of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and joined due to having family members that were going through mental health issues and not  knowing where to get the help. Mayim is very open and honest about her family's struggles and knows like we all do who are advocates, no matter who you are, you can get help, recover and live a good life. 

Then you have the Royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who are "Worldwide" mental health advocates. Not only have they started, "Heads Together," a mental health organization that helps individuals and their families dealing with a mental condition, they don't shy away from being around those that are affected by a mental condition. When you think about that one day, all three could have in front of their names King and Queen and yet, they get involved with mental health. It truly is humbling.  

It appears some celebrities today are using their mental condition not in a way to help others but to help themselves and their careers. A mental condition has become the new way to not only bring attention to themselves but to get great publicity for your next movie, TV show, world tour, album coming out or new project. 

For instance, Naomi Judd recently came out about her depression. Great right? Not so fast my friends! Could coming out about her depression have anything to do with the fact, she released her memoir called, "River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I emerged with Hope." which is all about her bout with depression? Selena Gomez gave a powerful speech at the AMA's last year with the public and celebrities going wild alike. She getting ready to go on tour. Could it be another coincident when Kristen Bell came out about her struggles with depression and anxiety around the same time that her new TV show, "The Good Place," was about to debut on NBC?  

Several other celebrities came to mind that recently came out about their mental health issues and yet, when have you seen The Rock, Jay Pharaoh, Wayne Brady, Hayden Panettiere, Pete Wentz, or countless other celebrities volunteering with people who have bipolar, depression or other mental conditions like them?  It is like they are saying, "I have a mental condition but because I am a celebrity; mine is different from yours. I'm not crazy."  Guess what? It isn't and we're not either.  

A mental condition doesn't care if you are rich or famous, it attacks us all the same. We have celebrities and everyday people alike standing up to cancer. Celebrities and everyday people alike need to "Take a Stand for Mental Health."  It's great to talk about a mental condition but with 117 Americans dying daily by suicide DAILY, with 90% of them having a mental condition at the time of their death, celebrities need to be more about action just as they are with cancer and other physical conditions. I am challenging ALL celebrities with a mental health issue to take ACTION and get involved. Mental Health Matters and we are all affected! 


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About the Author: Fonda Bryant is a mental health advocate for NAMI Charlotte and a new board member for NAMI NC, along with being a person that was diagnosed with depression 22 years ago, after a suicide attempt.  She's very passionate about mental health and helping those who are dealing with a mental condition.