Are celebrities making talking about mental health cool?

Ariana Grande, Ryan Reynolds, Jon Hamm, Karamo Brown, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson…

These are just a few of the celebrities that have spoken out about their struggles for mental wellness.

Mental health and behavioral health care have become a very hot topic across health care. 

With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, mental health was finally given the national spotlight.  The de-stigmatization has happened very slowly but seems to have quickly gaining speed with the help of more and more celebrity contributions.

Ryan Reynolds recently opened up about his intense struggles with anxiety.  He shared, “I never, ever slept or I was sleeping at a perfect right angle, just sitting straight, constantly working at the same time.”  He credits his wife, Blake Lively, with helping him through, “I’m lucky to have her around just to keep me sane”.

Demi Lovato courageously spoke out about her own problems with an eating disorder and self-harm.  She even shared details of her most recent relapse, showing all that the journey is about consistency and not perfection. 

Academy award winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has opening discussed his own struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  Struggling with it as young kid and later while filming The Aviator, Leo has honestly admitted in interviews that he has to force himself not to step on chewing gum stains. Saying to himself, “…you’re being ridiculous, stop stepping on every gum stain you see.”

With each new person that bravely speaks up about their struggles with mental illness or addiction, another person out there watching feels a little more comfortable verbalizing their own thoughts or feelings. 

We watch how they talk about their issues.  What they say and the emotion they show.  Some people take this and use it to find ways of expressing their own problems. 

Sometimes all it takes is hearing another person saying it out loud, for someone else suffering with something similar to feel comfortable enough to say ‘Me too’.

So, do we have these celebrities to thank for helping break down some of the stigma around mental illness and seeking treatment or therapy?

Yes, we absolutely do!

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Ok, maybe they are not completely responsible for the change, but there is no denying they have certainly had a significant impact.

Back in 2004, the American Psychological Association (APA) released a study that showed 47% of the people surveyed said “the stigma surrounding mental health services has decreased in recent years.”

9 out of 10 (or 91%) of those surveyed said “they would likely consult or recommend a mental health professional if they or a family member were experiencing a problem.”

Close relationships can be a highly persuasive factor to get someone to try therapy.  If you know someone else has done it, survived and thrived, then you are much more likely to give it a try yourself.

While we have seen a rise in mental health treatment being sought by Americans, we have also seen a correlating rise in the reports of mental health related issues.

This makes sense considering more and more people are being honest and speaking out about their mental and behavioral concerns or challenges as the stigma slowly breaks away.

We have these celebrities to thank for utilizing their super-celebrity-powers for good!  They dug deep inside to speak openly and honestly about their struggles. 

They received no award for this, no special honor.  They put themselves out there for the betterment of their fellow man/woman.  That is always something to be applauded.   

Lady Gaga said it best in her Academy Awards acceptance speech…

“I’ve worked hard for a long time, and it’s not about, you know…it’s not about winning.  But what it’s about is not giving up.  If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down, or you’re beaten up.  It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”

-Lady Gaga

If celebrities are in fact having a positive effect on the general population’s comfort level with expressing their inner most feeling and emotions, then ROCK ON!

Let’s encourage all people of influence, politicians, business professionals, industry experts, CEO’s, etc. to talk about their struggles.  

The more we talk, the more we understand and can comfort each other.

Mental wellness for all!


Ashley Lane Boyle

Empowered Partnerships LLC