May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health awareness is a cause that’s close to my heart. I truly believe that speaking up about the reality of mental illness is one of the best way to break the stigma surrounding it. So, who better to speak up than those with some of the most influence in our society? Last year I wrote about seven celebrities who have spoken up about their struggles with their own mental health. This year I decided to do it again, with a specific focus on stars whose stories have helped and inspired me personally. Here are six celebrities who have chosen to be open about their own mental illnesses:
Chris Evans is not only one of my favorite actors, but someone who I have really come to admire as a person. His openness about his struggle with anxiety has definitely played a part in this. Evans, who is best known for playing Captain America, has shared that his high-profile job has contributed to his anxiety. He initially even turned down the role of Captain America, and began going to therapy after beginning the Marvel role. In a video for Motivation Madness, he gave simple yet profound advice about how to quiet “brain noise” – just tell your mind “shh.”
Singer Bebe Rexha has never been silent about her struggles with mental illness. It’s a topic she addressed in her hit single “I’m A Mess,” with lyrics like, “It’s gonna be a good, good life / That’s what my therapist say” and “I’m obsessed, I’m embarrassed / I don’t trust no one around us.” She also recently shared that she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder on Twitter, writing, “I’m not ashamed anymore….I love you all very much. And I hope you accept me as I am.”
Carson Daly is the host of The Voice, one of the co-hosts of the Today Show, and recently finished hosting his own late-night talk show, Last Call with Carson Daly. One might assume that his busy schedule means everything is well in Daly’s life, but he has revealed he has generalized anxiety disorder. He says that it helps him to take time to focus on his breathing throughout the day. But his main focus? “I wake up, the alarm goes off, and I just thank God I’ve got another day to get it right and I just worry about today.”
Ariana Grande has cemented her status as a pop superstar, but she hasn’t been without her struggles. In 2017, there was a terrorist bombing at her concert in Manchester. The attack deeply affected Grande, who recently shared she has PTSD in a big way – she shared images of her brain scans in her Instagram Story in a side-by-side comparison with scans from a “healthy brain,” all to prove that PTSD is, as she put it, “not a joke.” Grande later said she didn’t want to concern her fans, but wanted to share something she felt was important. And it most certainly is.
Niall Horan was a member of the now permanently on-hiatus boyband One Direction. In the last few years, he has cultivated a relatively successful solo career. However, a lot has changed now that he’s no longer on stage with his four bandmates. Horan has said that he once didn’t even fully believe anxiety was real, but he now struggles with feeling anxious before performing or going on TV. He also has “mild” obsessive compulsive disorder, and “feel[s] like [he] has to do things in a certain way.”
Singer-turned-actress Lady Gaga has never been silent about her mental health. She has had a huge year following the success of her movie, A Star is Born, and she has used her increased fame to shine an even bigger light on bringing awareness to the plight of mental illness. During a speech at the Patron of the Artists Awards, Lady Gaga referenced her diagnoses of dissociation, PTSD, and panic attacks. “We need to share our stories so that global mental health no longer resides and festers in darkness,” she said, referencing the consequences of leaving a taboo surrounding the discussion of mental health. Lady Gaga is one celebrity who is truly leading the way in the fight for better mental health awareness.