Global Acceptance of Mental Illness – Is It Possible?
For the second time in 2015, Kate Middleton and Prince William spoke out about the importance of breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness and the global acceptance of it.
UK’s Mental Health Day on October 10th gave them many opportunities to attend charity events and speak to the press. This year’s theme was “Dignity in Mental Health”.
Visiting two charities – Mind and Time to Change – they met people who have experienced mental health problems. They also watched sessions that encourage people to talk about the related problems and challenges in their lives.
Shining a Spotlight on Mental Health
Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive officer, said that the Duke and Duchess’s visit would benefit those struggling with mental illness: “Their support will shine a spotlight on mental health and we hope it will spark conversations, amplifying the vital message that it’s time to talk about mental health.
“We hope it will encourage people to think about the little things we can all do to make a difference to anyone experiencing a mental health problem,” he told the Express and Star.
“There is a stigma to mental health problems in almost every culture in every society globally. So having two high-profile royal visitors will allow that message to get out globally,” said Sue Baker, director of Time to Change.
“It’s not just people in our country who will see them openly supporting mental health and having conversations, it’s got the potential to have global influence as well.”
Celebrities of All Types Join Depression and Mental Illness Campaign
In recent years, many of the well known, high profile athletes, politicians, actors and actresses have decided to go public with their own struggles with depression and related mental illnesses, sharing their experience and giving hope to the general public. They have undeniably helped create more awareness and acceptance of mental health conditions such as Clinical Depression, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses.
One such celebrity is Catherine Zeta-Jones, who, after a stressful period during 2011 in which she was caring for her cancer-stricken husband, checked in to a mental health treatment center. She was fluctuating between periods of joy and deep depression. Tests and physicians’ evaluations resulted in a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder, which is a form of Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic depressive illness, is a mental illness characterized by mood swings between the two psychological pulls of depression and euphoria. Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.
Catherine has been a leader among the U.S. celebrities who have gone quite public with information about their illness, courageously sharing intimate details with the press and the public. For Zeta-Jones, the trigger for her illness was the stress related to husband Michael Douglas’ battle with stage IV throat cancer. She has handled the public scrutiny like a pro, helping many others accept their own diagnoses.
Howie Mandel, a comedian and game show host was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and ADHD. He later decided to get help after years of dealing with racing thoughts, an inability to sit still, and obsessing over germs. He became a spokesman for these disorders and fights to diminish stigmas attached to them after seeing improvements in his mental health with treatment for ADHD and OCD.
Demi Lovato, a singer and songwriter, is one of those celebrities who have been dealing with mental illness for some time now. One of the things she does is to detail her trials and triumphs with mental illness through her lyrics. She is a vocal advocate for mental health awareness and acceptance, speaking publicly about her experience with bipolar disorder and addiction. In her own words, she’d say “I want to use my voice in more ways than singing.”
She recently launched Be Vocal, a campaign to encourage individuals struggling with mental illness to be open and talk about what they are going through. “Together we can use our voices to advance mental health in America” she proclaims.
Athletes and Presidents – All are Influential as They Go Public about Mental Illness
Well known professional athletes have also come forward to share their experiences. Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds, a National League MVP, and boxer Mike Tyson both endured bouts of severe depression.
In fact, a study at Duke University found that nearly half of all U.S. presidents have at some point battled Mood Disorders that include Depression.
Other Celebrities Face Public Scrutiny as They Go Public with Their Mental Illnesses
Many other famous faces have been outspoken about their mental disorders, and are helping break the stigma about what so many people—often, silently — struggle with. They include:
- Actor Jared Padalecki, known for his roles in “Supernatural” and “Gilmore Girls,” has become the latest in a long list of celebrities who are speaking out about mental illness.
- Actress Glenn Close has been outspoken and active in bringing national attention to the issue of mental illness.
- Actor Joey Pantoliano, has also been active in talking about his personal struggles with depression and substance use. He is raising awareness and fighting stigma through his No Kidding, Me Too! Foundation.
- Brooke Shields has publicly shared her experience with postpartum depression
- Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia of “Star Wars” fame) has taken her advocacy to the stage with her autobiographical one-woman play “Wishful Drinking,” where she tells her story of bipolar disorder and substance use with openness and humor.
Depression is Treatable
Even as statistics have shown that one out of every five Americans have a diagnosable mental illness, yet, most people who are most probably affected are not fully aware of their illnesses. The sad thing about all this is that people are unaware of the fact that depression and mental illness are both diagnosable and treatable. They also sometimes assume wrongly that what they do have is another illness entirely and so they do not go for treatment.
There are many others who also try to avoid depression treatment most times because of this fear they have of being rejected or being discriminated against. This is caused by the high level of stigmatization that exists in our society as a direct result of public ignorance and unawareness.
Some Suffer in Silence
So what most of these people unfortunately do is to keep quiet about it and suffer silently, perhaps to eventually give up altogether, living a lower quality of life.
If only they knew that by opening up and seeking treatment, they can get real, lasting help; more than they imagine. Many can get treatment and start living a healthy, happy life in which they can be productive in whatever it is they desire and choose to do.
Celebrities Can Raise Awareness of TMS
We dream of the day when celebrities like these bring to light the benefits of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for treating and recovering from depressive mental illnesses. When celebrities of some renown publicly endorse the benefits of TMS – and their recovery – we predict that TMS could be the “go-to” treatment for the majority of individuals – celebrities and non-celebrities alike.
How can YOU help spread the word about depression recovery through TMS treatment?
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