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  • Writer's pictureKate Warren

Break The Stigma - Celebrities who are working toward breaking the stigma of mental illness

Welcome back to the Stay U Blog. In our August edition, we will be looking at celebrities who have come out and spoken about mental illness and their struggles - either by writing a book, becoming an ambassador, or speaking about it in the media.

I think we often feel that celebrities have it easier than most of us - they do what they love and get paid well, live in mansions, have fancy cars and have a legion of admiring fans. Behind the scenes, however, they are working hard in an unforgiving industry that judges them and often stops them from being who they are. They are under constant scrutiny from their fans and the media and doubt their own abilities. They are, after all, only human.

The following 5 celebrities (plus many others) work tirelessly to Break the Stigma of mental illness. I have also included the mental health issues they struggle with, so you can perhaps make a connection with your own.


Depression, PTSD, Self-harm

Lady Gaga, whose Born This Way Foundation works with youth to promote kindness and eliminate mental health stigma, speaks openly in the media about her struggles with depression. She has used her fame as a music artist and actress to raise awareness and break the stigma around mental health, and to encourage others to seek help and support. Some of the ways she has done this are:

  • Speaking publicly about being raped at 19 and having a psychotic break as a result of this traumatic experience.

  • Sharing her personal mental health journey in documentaries like Gaga: Five Foot Two and The Me You Can’t See.

  • Advocating for more funding and research for mental health care and treatment.

  • Being honest and vulnerable about her own challenges and coping strategies in interviews and social media posts.

To visit her foundation's website, go to Home - Born This Way Foundation


Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks

Wil Wheaton started his acting career at a young age with cult films like Stand by Me and Toy Soldiers, and portrayed Wesley Crusher on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Nowadays, he appears regularly as a fictionalised version of himself on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory and has written a number of books; his most recent being the 2nd instalment of his autobiography, Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir.

Wil has been candid about his struggles with chronic depression and anxiety. Some of the ways he has worked towards Breaking the Stigma are:

  • He recorded a video for Project UROK, a nonprofit organisation in the United States that helps teens with mental health issues.

  • He wrote a foreword for a book, The Dark Fantastic, which explores how fantasy stories can help people with mental illness.

  • He gave a speech at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) convention, where he encouraged people to seek help and support.

You can watch his video, read his foreword, and listen to his speech by clicking on the links below:


Depression, Bipolar disorder, Substance abuse, Eating disorders

Demi Lovato is a singer and actress who has been honest about her struggles with addiction and mental health. She has worked toward breaking the stigma by sharing her story and supporting others who face similar challenges. Some examples are:

  • She became a spokesperson for Talkspace, an online therapy platform that aims to make mental health care more accessible.

  • She created a wellness treatment program for her fans who attended her concerts, offering free therapy sessions and inspirational speeches.

  • She released a documentary called Simply Complicated, where she revealed her personal and professional journey with addiction, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.

You can watch her documentary, read her interview, and learn more about her advocacy by clicking on the links below:


Bipolar disorder, Depression, Anxiety

Pete Wentz is a musician and songwriter who is best known as the bassist of Fall Out Boy. He has done several things to break the stigma of mental illness, such as:

  • He opened up about his bipolar disorder and how he manages it with medication, therapy, meditation, and exercise.

  • He wrote songs that reflect his emotions and experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, such as Hum Hallelujah and Save Rock and Roll.

  • He supported other artists who struggle with mental health issues, such as Kid Cudi, who he praised for checking into rehab for depression and suicidal urges.

You can read his interview, listen to his songs, and learn more about his mental health journey by clicking on the links below:


Depression, Substance abuse

Jared Padalecki is an actor who is famous for his roles in Supernatural and Gilmore Girls. He has worked towards breaking the stigma of mental illness by:

  • He launched a charity campaign called Always Keep Fighting, which raised funds and awareness for organisations that support people with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

  • He shared his own struggles with depression and how he overcame a nervous breakdown with the help of his family and friends.

  • He used his social media platforms to spread positive messages and encourage people to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.

You can check out his campaign, and read his story by clicking on the links below:

Other celebrities who speak openly and work toward breaking the stigma include:

  • Drew Barrymore - Actress, Writer, Host (Substance abuse, Panic attacks)

  • Kristen Bell - Actress (Anxiety, Depression)

  • Hayden Panettiere - Actress (Postpartum depression)

  • Pete Davidson - Comedian (Borderline Personality disorder)

  • Khalid - Musician (Anxiety)

  • Abigail Breslin - Actress (Complex PTSD)

  • Amanda Seyfried - Actress (OCD)

That brings us to the end of the Stay U Blog for this month. I hope that reading about these celebrities, who have all experienced very different struggles but have made it through, has made you understand that you are not alone, and that you can speak openly about your struggles with others. As I always say: A problem shared is a problem halved. Until next time, take care!

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