For this week’s “Mental Health Month: Lessons From…” we’re looking at Catherine Zeta-Jones, the award-winning actress who was recently treated for Bipolar II Disorder.

Of course, the fact that she was treated for Bipolar II isn’t why we can learn a lesson from her.

It isn’t even the fact that she spoke about it.

The reason we can learn a lesson from her is the fact that her first personal statement after treatment involved encouraging others to seek help, and reminding them that there’s no shame in doing so.

So what’s the lesson?

Take care of yourself.

Just so we’re clear: Catherine publicly spoke out about her illness and treatment, but busting stigma doesn’t mean everyone with a mental illness or mental health problem HAS to tell the world – or anyone but their doctors, for that matter – about it. There are still such things as privacy and each individual’s right to it. Having depression or bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and NOT announcing it to the world does NOT make you anti-mental health.

Instead of Catherine’s lesson being that people can bust stigma by being unashamed of telling the world they have a mental illness, it’s that each person must care enough about himself to recognize when he needs help and be unashamed to ask for it.

Would you feel ashamed having your insulin prescription filled? Receiving chemotherapy? Having your eyesight checked?

I hope not.

Catherine Zeta-Jones has the world at her fingertips. She’s happily married to a man who just got a new lease on life (husband Michael Douglas recently recovered from throat cancer); she’s won and been nominated for several Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, People’s Choice Awards, and Tony Awards; and she’s getting ready to start filming her new movie, Playing the Field.

Was she willing to jeopardize all of that – and more – because mental illness is still stigmatized? Was she willing to ignore it, hope it would go away, or even self-medicate because there was the chance someone would raise an eyebrow?

Um, no!

No one else should, either.

This Mental Health Month, refuse to feel ashamed when you ask for help, and encourage others to seek help without feeling embarrassed or as if they’ve done something wrong.

Before you go, take a minute to check out 3 Ways To Advocate For Mental Health!

You might also be interested in previous years’ Mental Health Month posts here at Celebrity Psychings, like:

Image Credit: betta design per these Creative Commons Licenses & Attributions.