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 a revealing piece for Teen Vogue, the Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why actor opened up about her battle with OCD and depression, writing that her mental health issues eventually caused her to question her desire to live. “There was no logical reason for me to feel so worthless. But I did. And I would come to realize that it was because of a combination of mental disorders that had been slowly taking over every facet of my life: depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),” she said.
The worst part of her OCD, she wrote, was how it affected her self-image. “I grew to believe that I was evil, disgusting, and perverted. My disorder not only caused me to fixate on certain thoughts or images, but also curated ones that were specifically disturbing to me and bombarded me with them,” she said.
According to the Canadian Psychological Association, approximately one to two percent of the Canadian population will experience an episode of OCD in their lifetime. Yet—as Purser notes—the serious disorder still seems to be trivialized by the public. “The world seems to see OCD as a weird quirk to joke about. A few winters ago, Target even released a sweater that read ‘OCD. Obsessive Christmas Disorder.’ But wanting to keep things clean or just really loving Christmas is in no way comparable to what it is really like to have diagnosable OCD,” she wrote.
Recently, Purser has taken herself off medication, but stresses that the decision to do so is not for everyone. With regular visits with her therapist, Purser says her mental health has improved. “Despite all my struggles, past and present, I am alive, and, now, I want to be.”
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