In recent years, mental health has been mentioned more and more in the press, with several celebrities coming forward and sharing their stories in the hope that this will help encourage others to speak out and get help. While mental health issues are now more widely accepted and understood, there is still a lot of stigma attached to these conditions, which mainly exists out of lack of understanding. We wanted to recognise and celebrate the work of some British celebrities who are using their platforms for good and leading the fight against mental health stigma.
Photo credit: By Carfax2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
“Once you start talking about it, you realise that actually you’re part of quite a big club”
– Prince Harry
Prince Harry, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge – Kate Middleton – formed the foundation ‘Heads Together’ in 2016, with the aim of making speaking about mental health more acceptable and easy. Previously Harry has admitted to seeking counselling himself, after experiencing spouts of anxiety and depression after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. He describes experiencing feelings of “total chaos” at times, and admitted to suffering with anxiety at royal engagements, but claims that talking about his feelings to those closest to him really helped.
Alongside several other celebrity ambassadors, such as Lady Gaga, these three royals have helped to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health advice, and have shown that anyone can suffer from overwhelming thoughts and feelings – even the royal family! They also started the hashtag #oktosay, which has had millions of hits on twitter, and has helped share the message that it is ok to talk about mental health.
Photo credit: By Freedom Fry — "Happy birthday to GNU" film crew, especially Matt Lee and Andrew Sampson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
"I want to speak out, to fight the public stigma and to give a clearer picture of a mental illness”
Comedian Stephen Fry has been open and frank about his struggles with depression, bipolar disorder and substance abuse, and is now a keen mental health advocate, as well as President of the mental health charity ‘Mind’. In his BBC2 documentary, The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, he consults experts and fellow sufferers of bipolar disorder, in an attempt to shed light on the disorder that has haunted him his whole life. Fry admits to having tried to commit suicide in his younger years, but now, at the age of 60, he focuses on using his experiences to try and help others who are suffering.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Zoella (aka Zoe Sugg)
“I would cry, and think “I can’t go. I can’t go and see my boyfriend. I’m scared to get on a train. Why can’t I just be normal?”
Beauty blogger and Youtube sensation Zoella (real name Zoe Sugg), is a huge hit online with over 11million subscribers to her YouTube channel, as well as her own book, makeup and homeware range. While her channel is usually filled with makeup tutorials and shopping ‘hauls’, Zoe switched it up in 2012 when she opened up about her experiences with anxiety and panic attacks. Having struggled with her mental health since she was 14, Zoella wanted to open up to encourage others to speak out and seek help – and the reaction she got was incredible. The comments section of her video was filled with support from her fans, and others sharing their experiences, meanwhile Zoe received loads of emails from people who thanked her for making them feel less alone.
Zoe is now very much involved in the mental health movement, and does regular vlogs on her channel about how she copes with her anxiety, and how to seek help. She is also Mind’s first official Digital Ambassador, and regularly promotes their campaigns in a bid to educate and inform her young audience.
Photo credit: By Executive Office of the President [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling — that really hollowed-out feeling.”
J.K. Rowling, best known for writing the world-famous Harry Potter series, is one of the best loved authors of this generation, with a huge fan base worldwide. Her huge fan base are not afraid to put her on a pedestal, however this has not stopped the writer from opening up on many occasions about her battle with depression and suicidal feelings. Rowling lets her fans know that she is not embarrassed to have suffered with her mental health, and claims that she has “Never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never.” adding “What’s there to be ashamed of?”
Alongside letting her fans know that it’s okay to suffer with your mental health, she often takes to twitter to respond to trolls, such as most recently when former Big Brother contestant Andrew Tate started a thread which suggested that depression wasn’t real, and that people should just “move on”. J.K. Rowling is great at ripping into those who dispute mental illness as a fad, but is still kind and responsive to her fans, and often replies to cries for help with supportive messages and advice.
Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
“I wasn’t exactly normal and I’ve come out of it on top. My view on it is God looked down one day and was like ‘f***ing hell, you need some help mate, here’s a guitar.”
Singer Ed Sheeran is renowned for his voice, and has sold over 5 million albums and 19.4 million singles combined, but that hasn’t stopped him opening up about his struggles with his mental health. Sheeran has revealed that when he was younger he used to struggle with his confidence, and often felt unhappy with his appearance, which would get him down. He has, on multiple occasions, described himself as an “outsider”, but notes how he believes this has strengthened his fan base. Sheeran believes that writing music has really helped him to come to grips with his own emotions, and told Radio 1 that song writing is “a form of therapy” for him.
Ed has also decided to use his own experiences and body image issues to help others, and raise awareness for mental health issues. He has teamed up with YoungMinds, alongside fellow stars including James Corden, to help young people who may be struggling with their mental health, and to end the stigma. He also backs the #IAMWHOLE campaign, which aims to encourage openness about mental health issues and shows people that their mental health does not define them.
Source: Dr julian