According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 49%—yes, almost half—of people who have felt symptoms of depression and anxiety never seek medical help. In any given year, one in five people in Canada will experience a mental health problem and by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
So why aren’t we talking about this more? The taboo around speaking openly about mental illness still exists, although campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk and Opening Minds (established by the Mental Heath Commissions of Canada) are working to eradicate it.
Celebs who get candid about their own mental health struggles also help chip away at the stigma. From Lady Gaga using her GRAMMYS platform for good to Chrissy Teigen’s personal essay on her postpartum depression, here are more than a dozen public figures who have shared their own deeply personal experiences in the name of raising awareness, eliminating stigma and helping us all feel a little less alone.
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In May 2016, Kristen Bell shared her experience with depression in a personal essay for Motto.
“When I was 18, my mom sat me down and said, ‘If there ever comes a time where you feel like a dark cloud is following you, you can get help. You can talk to me, talk to a therapist, talk to doctor. I want you to know that there are options.’”
(Quick round of applause for Mama Bell.)
When Bell did start experiencing what her mother had alluded to, she writes that she thought there was no logical reason to feel what she was feeling. “I was at [NYU], I was paying my bills on time, I had friends and ambition—but for some reason, there was something intangible dragging me down. Luckily, thanks to my mom, I knew that help was out there—and to seek it without shame.”
“When you try to keep things hidden, they fester and ultimately end up revealing themselves in a far more destructive way than if you approach them with honesty.” Bell wrote. “Here’s the thing: For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness. Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure. Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s important for me to be candid about this so people in a similar situation can realize that they are not worthless and that they do have something to offer. We all do.”
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