Prince Harry realized that there was “a lot of stuff” he needed to deal with.
As celebrities begin to talk openly about their own struggles with mental health, people around the world may feel more comfortable admitting their own challenges, too. When I hear stories about leaders and role models who have struggled and triumphed, I feel empowered to change. I feel like I’m not alone. It feels easier to ask for help, and I’m encouraged to keep growing and healing.
Mental health has long carried a stigma with it. People who struggle with trauma, addiction, grief, and other pain and compulsive behaviors are sometimes loath to get assistance, because such illnesses are historically depicted as “weakness.” But in fact, many people suffer from a wide spectrum of issues and remaining in denial is often more harmful than admitting you have a problem.
Recently, there have been a flurry of personal testimonies and heartfelt statements from famous role models who are admitting to their personal struggles, as well as championing the benefits of seeking assistance.
Ben Affleck, age 44 and acclaimed actor and filmmaker, posted a public statement on Facebook last month, openly admitting he had completed treatment for alcoholism:
“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”
Famous actress and icon Catherine Zeta Jones, age 47, has been open about her struggles, too. She admitted she has grappled with bipolar II disorder over the past several years. The actress told InStyle magazine:
“I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it is completely controllable. I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it.”
This week, Prince Harry of Wales, age 32, opened up about his mental health struggles:
“I can safely say that losing my mum (Princess Diana) at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he told The Telegraph. “My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help? I thought, it’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side, I was like ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.’ So I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘Life is great’, or ‘Life is fine’ and that was exactly it. And then I started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.”
Prince Harry confessed he was “a little nervous, a little tight in the chest” about sharing the details of his struggles, but said it was worth it because he was determined to make a difference.
By taking initiative and changing the public narrative around mental health, celebrities are helping to show how recovery can lead to healthier living. These individuals are examples of courage and strength.
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Story originally published on The Huffington Post, April 18th, 2017.