Daily Mail writer John Naish asked, Is celebrity soul-bearing spreading depression? yesterday, and upon diving into the article, I expected to gain some more insight about the effects celebrity candidness about mental illness is having on the public’s perception — and opinion — of mental illness (think “‘I want to be bipolar’ … a new phenomenon”, the research Dr. Diana Chan and Dr. Lester Sireling published in the most recent issue of The Psychiatrist).
Overall I did: Naish references the research, talks about specific celebrity cases, quotes other doctors, and even hands the podium over to a man who’s dealt with bipolar disorder for years and who finds it “horrendous” that people who don’t have bipolar disorder would aspire to have it.
Articles like Naish’s are working to educate the public about this possible trend of “I’m diagnosing myself with [whatever mental illness] because [whatever celebrity] has it and clearly it’s [cool/respected/beneficial] to have it,” which is great; however, in trying to help some, I think they might be isolating others — others who might actually have an undiagnosed problem, but end up thinking it’s all in their heads because their symptoms aren’t being addressed in the discussion.
For example, during its mission to draw a line between mood swings and actual bipolar disorder, Naish’s article doesn’t really mention the different kinds of bipolar disorder. Naish highlights extreme highs and lows, but leaves it at that.
In reality, there are different levels — different types, rather — of bipolar disorder.