14 celebrities who have opened up about mental health struggles
In recent years, discussions about mental health have gone mainstream. No longer silent sufferers, many people have found themselves bolstered to open up about their own mental health struggles in personal essays, poignant Instagram posts and more.
Even celebrities are now talking about mental illness and how they cope with their own battles. Thanks to their star power, they are helping to change how we all talk about mental health. As a result, we’re all learning more productive ways to cope with mental illness.
The following 14 celebrities that have opened up about their own experiences with mental health challenges — and the advice that has helped them.
1. Dwayne Johnson
His message: You can help others with mental illnesses to heal.
Did you know Johnson literally saved his mother’s life when she attempted suicide by walking into traffic? He’s also suffered from depression himself.
“We both healed but we’ve always got to do our best to pay attention when other people are in pain,” he’s said of the experience. “We have to help them through it and remind them they are not alone.”
2. Demi Lovato
Her message: Mental illness is no joke.
Lovato has become one of entertainment’s most outspoken voices on mental health issues. She has gone on record as saying it bugs her when people use phrases like “bipolar,” “OCD” and “schizo” as jokes. She contends that they are serious illnesses and that using those terms flippantly lessens their legitimacy. Like many others speaking out, Lovato—who has bipolar disorder and has struggled with substance abuse issues—also says mental health deserves treatment like a physical illness.
3. Lady Gaga
Her message: Meditation can help with post-traumatic stress disorder.
During a visit to New York’s Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth, the singer opened up about her PTSD and how she has learned to cope with it.
“Meditation helps me to calm down,” she told those at the center. “I don’t have the same kinds of issues that you have, but I have a mental illness and I struggle with that mental illness every day so I need my mantra to help keep me relaxed.”
Her message: Reach out to friends about your struggles.
When the singer battled postpartum depression, she opened up to friends and learned they were going through similar experiences. She found treatment in talking about the experience candidly with friends.
“Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it; they thought everyone would think they were a bad mom, and it’s not the case,” she told Vanity Fair in 2016.
5. Jon Hamm
His message: It’s OK to admit you need help and seek therapy.
“We live in a world where to admit anything negative about yourself is seen as a weakness, when it’s actually a strength,” Hamm shared last year. “It’s not a weak move to say, ‘I need help.’ In the long run it’s way better, because you have to fix it.” Hamm opened up about his own struggle with depression and how much antidepressants and therapy helped him.
6. Lena Dunham
Her message: Working out can help combat anxiety.
For Dunham, exercise has proven to be more effective than medication when it comes to her mental health. She has battled debilitating anxiety since childhood. As a result, she encourages people to prioritize fitness for the mental relief, not just the physical benefits.
“[Exercise] has helped me with my anxiety in ways I’ve never dreamed possible,” she wrote on Instagram in 2015. “To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it’s mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen. I’m glad I did…”
7. Shawn Mendes
His message: Quick fixes aren’t effective for mental illness.
The singer-songwriter turned his own mental health challenges into the emotional ballad “In My Blood.” In the song, he paints a clear, poignant picture of anxiety and failed attempts to “feel better.” He asks in the first verse, “Keep telling me that it gets better, Does it ever?” For Mendes, therapy and opening up to friends has helped him deal with his anxiety.
8. Bella Hadid
Her message: Realizing you’re not alone can help with anxiety.
Hadid learned how to overcome what was once crippling social anxiety.
“In this business, it’s hard to stay centered, stay inside yourself,” Hadid shared on the Lifetime show “Making a Model.” “You’re not alone, I promise you — I’m here to talk. Believe me I get it, I was totally there. I promise I went through that, [and] it gets better once you start doing it every day. It’s my job, I have to do it anyway.”
And statistics back her up, as more than 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, which is the most common mental illness.
9. Amanda Seyfried
Her message: Just because you can’t see mental illness, doesn’t mean it’s not a serious disease.
“A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category, but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else,” she told Allure. “You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it.” Seyfried speaks from her own experience with OCD and related health anxiety.
10. Selena Gomez
Her message: It’s OK to put your own mental wellbeing first.
The singer took some time away from performing in 2016 to deal with mental health issues that arose from her diagnosis of lupus.
“I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off,” she told People magazine. “I know I am not alone by sharing this, I hope others will be encouraged to address their own issues.”
11. Kerry Washington
Her message: Therapy sessions should be considered as vital as dental appointments.
“My brain and my heart are really important to me,” Washington shared in an interview with Glamour. “I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink?”
12. Emma Stone
Her message: Find ways to bolster your own self-esteem.
When Stone was a child, she wrote a book for herself to help with her anxiety, which she has since said, along with therapy appointments, helped her manage her anxiety.
“I wrote this book called ‘I Am Bigger Than My Anxiety’ that I still have. I drew a little green monster on my shoulder that speaks to me in my ear and tells me all these things that aren’t true,” Stone told Rolling Stone. “And every time I listen to it, it grows bigger. If I listen to it enough, it crushes me. But if I turn my head and keep doing what I’m doing – let it speak to me, but don’t give it the credit it needs – then it shrinks down and fades away.”
13. Chance the Rapper
His message: The black community needs to be more open about mental health.
When Chance the Rapper (aka Chancelor Bennett) faced anxiety, he realized he didn’t have mental health mentors to connect with.
“I think anxiety is also something that I’m just now being exposed to,” the musician said in the interview with Complex magazine. “A really big conversation and idea that I’m getting introduced to right now is black mental health. ’Cause for a long time that wasn’t a thing that we talked about. I don’t remember it. I don’t remember people talking about anxiety; I don’t remember, when I was growing up, that really being a thing.”
14. Chrissy Teigen
Her message: Mental illness isn’t always obvious.
Mental illness often manifests as different symptoms in different people and, as a result, can be difficult to self-diagnose. “I blamed whatever stress or detachment or sadness I was feeling at that time on the fact that there were so many odd circumstances,” Teigen wrote in a 2017 essay for Glamour. Eventually Teigen’s doctor diagnosed her with postpartum depression and anxiety.
“I started taking an antidepressant, which helped,” she wrote in the article. “And I started sharing the news with friends and family — I felt like everyone deserved an explanation, and I didn’t know how else to say it other than the only way I know: just saying it.