There’s a very popular US Weekly segment called “Stars - they’re just like us!” It’s been co opted all over the web, and people love seeing photos of megastars such as Brad Pitt dealing with very human, unglamorous aspects of life. And it’s true, beneath the public relations, money, and glamour, celebrities are human. The same goes for mental health struggles. Fame doesn’t mean you’re immune to depression, and the same struggles faced by many: think shame around publicly admitting to having an issue with their mental health, are multiplied by their place in the public eye.
Many famous artists and celebrities have spoken out about their mental health struggles, and some have even gone on to become spokespeople in the industry. When celebrities speak openly about their mental health issues it encourages others to do the same. They’re able to use their influence to create broader change in the cultural narrative and help their fans find solace. A celebrity’s openness around mental health can ultimately help decrease the stigmas related to mental health in many cultures.
Below are several celebrities who have spoken openly about their mental health issues. We hope you find solace in their stories!
The diva told Vanity Fair “I can slip in and out of [depression] quite easily.” She also spoke about how she suffered from severe postpartum depression after the birth of her son. Adele went on to admit how she had a hard time talking about it: “I was very reluctant…Four of my friends felt the same way I did and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it.”
Like Adelle, Princess Diana also suffered from postpartum depression. In one 1995 interview she admitted, “I was unwell with postnatal depression, which no one ever discussed…and that in itself was a bit of a difficult time. You’d wake up in the morning feeling you didn’t want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood, and just very, very low in yourself.” Like Adelle, Princess Diana also struggled by way of feeling like she couldn’t talk about it publicly. She made a cogent argument about what happens when you don’t feel supported. “When no one listens to you, or you feel no one’s listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen. For instance you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it’s the wrong help you’re asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you’re in the media all the time you’ve got enough attention, inverted commas….”
The Harry Potter creator may be one of the wealthiest, most famous writers in the world, but it wasn’t an easy path getting to where she is today. While writing Harry Potter, Rowling was mourning the death of her mother, and she wasn’t doing well financially before the books came out. Rowling helps to destigmatize mental illness by speaking openly about her battles. "What's to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time, and I am quite proud that I got out of that," she told the Sunday Times of London in 2008. She’s also been open about her struggle with with obsessive compulsive disorder. Her experiences with the condition informed an important character in her book, The Casual Vacancy. She’s a shining example of how your struggles can actually help you create beautiful art.
Comedians are often the most sensitive people, using humor as a way to cope with their pain. Jim Carrey may be a legend for his ability to be goofy, but off camera things were often more serious. Carrey has opened up about taking Prozac to manage depression.
The ABC News Anchor opened up about her lifelong battle with anxiety. She recently partnered with the Child Mind Institute, which works with struggling children, on a major campaign. As a young girl she was severely affected by her father’s deployment to Vietnam and now works to help children affected by mental health issues. "My earliest memories as a little girl are infused and filled with worry and fear," Vargas revealed in PEOPLE video. She started having panic attacks when she was 6 years old. Like others, she echoed that she didn’t feel heard or understood."This wasn't a time when people were paying a lot of attention to the children of soldiers at war. No one asked me why I was panicking and I kept my panic a secret. I felt ashamed of it. I hid it as I grew older."
It may be hard to believe that Hollywood darling Emma Stone was once an anxiety-riddled child. Her turmoil is what prompted her to act in the first place She recently spoke about her anxiety, which became so debilitating that she stopped socializing with friends completely. Along with therapy, performing helped her transcend her anxiety. She spoke of this to Rolling Stone, explaining "I started acting at this youth theater, doing improv and sketch comedy….You have to be present in improv, and that’s the antithesis of anxiety."
Winfrey has always been public about issues surrounding mental health and wellness longer than most. She’s shared her experiences with depression, disordered eating, and other suppressed emotions for years. While we know her as the successful woman she is today (maybe a bit of an understatement…), her own perceived failures sent her into a spiral. When her 1998 film “Beloved” failed, she struggled immensely, but eventually bounced back.
Do you recall the award-winning film, “A Beautiful Mind?” It was inspired by John Nash, the math genius and Nobel Prize winner lived with lived paranoid schizophrenia. Nash opened up a PBS interview with some hopeful words, explaining that while "People are always selling the idea that people who have mental illness are suffering,” these disorders are often misunderstood. Nash successful adjusted his life to live with schizophrenia, and was able to continue his monumental work. Mental health disorders are often misunderstood. Nash said he has made adjustments to live with schizophrenia, which allowed him to continue his life work. He also felt that the periods of paranoia actually helped him realize he wanted to have a more positive influence in the world.
Like many who rise to stardom in their youth, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps has been under major public scrutiny. His mother Deborah Phelps shared how he struggled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Diagnosed at 9 years old, Phelps had trouble concentrating in school, but swimming helped him manage the disorder.