Archive for January, 2010

Celebrities Help Beyond 'Hope for Haiti Now'

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Hope For Haiti Now: A Global Benefit For Earthquake Relief held in Los Angeles

As you probably know, “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” took over the airwaves last Friday night.

More than 40 television channels brought us performances by musicians like Dave Matthews, Neil Young, Chris Martin, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Rihanna, and Wyclef Jean and speeches from actors and actresses like George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Robert Pattinson, Halle Berry, and Julia Roberts who explained to us the severity of Haiti’s situation and encouraged us to call or visit the website to make a donation.

Anderson Cooper talked with survivors and medical professionals on the scene, Bill Clinton told us about his and George Bush’s Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, and we heard emotional stories from people who’d only just left the country or had family members in Haiti.

All in all, it was a good show; Mary J. Blige‘s rendition of “Hard Times Come Again No More” made me cry and, according to an MTV release, Hope for Haiti Now has raised more than $61 million to date.

You might be surprised to hear that it’s that last part – the money part – that has some folks ranging from confused to angry.

Psychotherapists Say Pitt-Jolie Parenting Choice Is 'Quite Healthy'

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
MOCA NEW 30th Anniversary Gala - Cocktails

If you’re the parent of a toddler-aged little girl who likes to dress in boys’ clothes and will only answer to “John” or “Peter,” you’re in good company.

Well, depending on how you feel about the Pitt-Jolie clan.

Last week, reported that recent pictures of the celebs’ three-year-old daughter, Shiloh, dressed in a tie and bowler hat set the blogger gossip mill a’ turning with questions about whether the duo wished to turn their daughter into a son.


As it turns out, Pitt and Jolie allow Shiloh to choose her own clothes and, fortunately, experts stepped in to assure the masses that the two are perfectly within the realms of healthiness by allowing their daughter to do so.

“It’s quite healthy, as she is learning to make choices and think independently,” says Manhattan psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, who writes a column in Metro newspaper called “No More Drama.”

Psychotherapist Carol Tuttle, author of Dressing Your Truth-Real Beauty for Real Women, tells Us the fact that Pitt and Jolie allow Shiloh to choose her clothes “is a very healthy activity for a little 3-year-old girl.”

Brad and Angelina and their many children are always sources of celebrity gossip material, but I sincerely hope that’s enough to squash the weak “they want to turn their girl into a boy!” scandal, haha.

Joaquin Phoenix, Miley Cyrus, and Liv Tyler Encourage You To Vote For Suicide Prevention

Monday, January 25th, 2010

He hasn’t been in the news lately, but Joaquin Phoenix recently resurfaced in a big – and GOOD – way.

His scraggly beard, dark sunglasses, nervous mumbling, and plans to leave acting for a rap career had many folks concerned about his mental health – including one doctor who believed the star could have schizophrenia – but the animal rights activist appeared clean shaven and completely articulate and completely hysterical at times as a mental health advocate in a new PSA for To Write Love On Her Arms.

To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) “is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide” that “exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery,” and Phoenix appeared with Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of TWLOHA, as well as fellow celebs Liv Tyler and Miley Cyrus.

In the video, not only do we get to see Cyrus attempt to explain to Phoenix who she and Lady GaGa are, but we find out that Phoenix actually helped inspire the title of “To Write Love On Her Arms” AND watch Cyrus explain to Phoenix and Tyler how to vote for TWLOHA win $1 million for suicide prevention.

In case the bubbly singer-slash-actress’s instructions weren’t clear, here’s what you do:

So, go do it. Now. Go!

Celebrity Advocacy Doesn't Free You From YOUR Responsibilities

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Celebrity advocacy can do amazing things, can’t it?

Whatever the cause, when a celebrity becomes involved the issue is likely to be propelled to new heights – sometimes to beneficial heights and the public becomes educated and aware, and sometimes to damaging heights causing widespread misinformation and wary, frustrated medical professionals.

Such is the topic of USA Today‘s Are Celebrities Crossing the Line On Medical Advice?, and we’ve seen both scenarios in the mental health community.

Celebrities and their mental health campaigns – such as Paige Hemmis and Blueprint for Hope, Glenn Close and Bring Change 2 Mind, and Joey Pants and No Kidding, Me Too! – not only offer hope to those dealing with mental illness who might feel hopeless and isolated, but also help spread solid information about mental health, research, and resources to folks who might’ve otherwise just not known.

At the same time, the mental health community has celebrities like Tom Cruise – who claims psychiatry is a pseudoscience and publicly chastised Brooke Shields for using antidepressants to treat her postpartum depression – who are, no matter how good their intentions might be, spreading inaccurate information and potentially swaying people from seeking life-saving treatments.

Even the best celebrity supporter of a mental health campaign won’t deny that no matter what a celebrity is saying about a certain cause, people in the mental health community – just like folks in any other community – must take responsibility for their own education, awareness, and treatment.

They can do this by…

Heidi Montag On Plastic Surgery: "I’m Beyond Obsessed"

Monday, January 18th, 2010

These days, plastic surgery doesn’t raise much of an eyebrow. Travel anywhere from Suburbia to Hollywood and you can meet both women and men who’ve gone under the knife to fix some “imperfection,” however large or minuscule, or sling another temporarily effective grenade toward the ongoing battle against the aging process.

No, it takes a little more than plastic surgery (and sometimes even the reasons behind it) to cause a stir in 21st century America; however, plastic surgery of the volume of Heidi Montag’s recent procedures is sometimes enough.

A recent issue of People magazine features a seven-page spread of 23-year-old reality-star-turned-pop-singer Heidi Montag, not to highlight the long overdue release of her first album, Superficial, but to shine what appears to be a much brighter spotlight on her self-declared plastic surgery obsession.

The Huffington Post provides a scan of the first two pages of the feature, which show both a “Before” and “After” picture and labels the more than $30,000 worth of procedures (10, to be exact) Montag underwent in just one day, including breast augmentation, a mini brow lift, fat injections, and liposuction on her waist, hips, thighs, and neck.

You might think that, while ridiculously drastic, 10 plastic surgery procedures in just one day does not an obsession make. However, according to Montag, plans for plastic surgery have consumed her for years.

“For the past three years, I’ve thought about what to have done,” the reality star tells PEOPLE. “I’m beyond obsessed.” (People)


Celebs Speak Out: Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and Emotional Wellness

Friday, January 15th, 2010

When it comes to mental health and wellness, celebrities have been pretty chatty lately!

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve run across several interviews, articles, and productions in which celebrities have spoken out about their struggles with and victories over mental illness and I thought that, rather than bog you down with multiple posts, you might enjoy a mini collection for a bit of weekend reading and viewing.

  • An assortment of well-known celebs – including Katie Couric, Richard Gere, and Chevy Chase – participated in PBS’s This Emotional Life, a three-part documentary series that, along with its companion website, is meant to start a national dialogue about emotional wellness.
  • Singer, actress, and reality star Natalie Imbruglia talked with the UK’s Daily Mail Online about how she coped with divorce and how she’s no stranger to depression.
  • Actress Patty Duke recently took a break before one of her Wicked musical performances to talk with Behavioral Health Center about her career, her experiences with bipolar disorder, and her advocacy in the mental health community.
  • Wilmington, Delaware celebrity, actress Ashley Jansen, is also speaking out about her bipolar disorder and journey to wellness. The actress spoke publicly for the first time in September then again in December, and plans to speak in February at the Delaware Theater Co. and as many as eight more times in the coming months. “‘When I’m doing this, I feel like I’m exactly where I was born to be,’ she says. ‘I want to be real and authentic.'”

Have you come across any similar stories lately? Feel free to share ‘em in the comments!

'Avatar' Moviegoers Experience Depression, Suicidal Thoughts

Thursday, January 14th, 2010
Australians In Film Screening Of "Avatar"

I used to become a bit sad when I thought about how I’d never go to Hogwarts or use an invisibility cloak or send a piece of mail via owl or slug down a butterbeer with The Chosen One, and I admit I belong to a Facebook group called “I Have Trouble Dealing With The Fact That Edward Cullen Is *Fictional*”, so when I read the headline for the recent CNN article Audiences Experience ‘Avatar’ Blues, I wasn’t all that surprised.

I soon discovered, though, that the title is a bit misleading. After diving into the article, it seems these viewers are a step or two above (or, below?) just having the blues or wishing they could experience the fantasy world. Some Avatar viewers, including those who use various Avatar-related forums, “have expressed feelings of disgust with the human race and disengagement with reality,” are experiencing something similar to “separation anxiety” when the two-and-a-half hour movie ends, and are quoted as stating they’ve become “depressed” and have “contemplated suicide.”

Blame for Mental Illness Exploitation: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
Empty stage with curtains closed and spotlight on

Last Saturday, London’s Soho Theatre wrapped up another running of Kim Noble’s “Kim Noble Will Die” (the first of which aired back in April 2009, to my understanding) and the show seems to have gotten as many glowing reviews as scathing criticism.

Kim Noble has manic depression, and if you’re wondering why the reactions to his show are so extreme (and, unless you’re British or keep up with the various comedians around the world, it’s likely you are), it seems to be because “Kim Noble Will Die” is a piece of performance art that – whether intentionally or unintentionally – includes something for everyone in the “This Is Gonna Infuriate, Disgust, or Otherwise Offend You” category.

Back in April, Times writer Dominic Maxwell, who overall seemed to enjoy the performance or at least Noble’s creativity and talent, called it a “multimedia suicide note” and claimed that “even for a show about going too far, [Noble] goes too far,” and really, it’s not hard to imagine that the show that includes masturbation, vials of semen for the female viewers, questionable acts with feminine hygiene products, footage from Noble’s own arrest for stalking, and has even been reported to the police may very well go too far for most folks.

Should We Encourage Celebs To Stay Quiet About Their Mental Health Problems?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
17th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Viewing Party

I’ve read numerous blog posts and magazine and newspaper articles about VH-1’s “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” in the past, but none have made me stop and think the way Kevin McDonough’s Beyond Rehab, Dr. Drew Points to a Societal Cancer.

The idea that society thrives on the troubles of others (especially the troubles of celebrities) is nothing new, and neither is the idea that Dr. Drew is feeding that fixation (however intentionally or unintentionally) by treating his celebrity patients on national television; however, McDonough poses an idea that I hadn’t thought about before:

Simply put, not only is Dr. Drew placing “publicity, celebrity, and money” over his patients’ best interests, but also that – as a doctor – he should be trying to prevent his patients from (or encourage them not to) exploit themselves.

A couple of thoughts came to mind after reading McDonough’s article.

First, I agree that, as their doctor, Dr. Drew should place priority on his celebrity patients’ well being and recovery and should not encourage them to do something that could be harmful; however, I recognize that we really don’t know if he is or isn’t. We don’t really know what goes in to giving these celebrities the green light to be on the show. In other words, we don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes.

Second, I wonder how all this relates to the stigma of mental illness. If anyone – celebrity or not – wants to publicize his mental health issues and the treatment he undergoes, is it actually beneficial to that person and the viewers for us to encourage him not to? If we can assume that at least a few of the celebrities on the show genuinely want to get help and are sincerely okay with allowing viewers along for the ride, would we actually be contributing to stigma by saying, “Hey, you should keep this to yourself”?

What do you think?

Is Dr. Drew not acting in the best interest of his patients with “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”? Or, …

How Well Do You Know Celebrities and Depression?

Monday, January 11th, 2010
Red question mark key

One of the most common reactions I get when people find out that I write a blog about celebrities and mental health for Psych Central is, “I heard [enter some famous person’s name here] has depression/bipolar disorder/schizophrenia/etc. Is that true?”

I’m not an expert on celebrities and mental illness, especially not in the “I know every celebrity who’s ever dealt with mental health issues” sense; really, I have the same kind of access to the information that every other person who is not that celebrity’s doctor or loved one has: Research of information the celebrity has made public or that has become public after the celebrity’s death. Eventually, the findings of that research start to build up in the brain and there are questions I can answer “Yes” or “No” to, but many times it’s “I don’t know” or “That’s what I’ve heard.”

Still, having that kind of knowledge base can come in handy. Many people appreciate it when celebrities come forward about the same kinds of issues we nonfamous folk deal with. Sometimes it makes us feel not so alone. Sometimes it helps us see that we’re all human dealing with the same human problems. Sometimes it gives us hope.

Holly Lebowitz Rossi of created the Celebrity Depression Heroes quiz, a much more interactive way of learning about and testing your own knowledge about celebrities and depression. Head on over and give it a try – some of the questions are tricky, and some of the answers just might surprise you!


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