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Mental health awarenessMental health is an issue that, until recently, people shied away from talking about. While it can be a sensitive topic for people, it is one that society needs to talk about. By discussing mental health, people can help raise awareness of the issue. Celebrities are known to have an influence on their fans, so when they speak about a cause they care about, people tend to listen. Here are a few celebrities who are known mental health awareness advocates.

5 Celebrities Advocating for Mental Health Awareness

  1. Demi Lovato. Actor and singer Demi Lovato has frequently spoken about their struggles with mental illness. Lovato has been a mental health activist since 2015 when they revealed they were diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Wanting to help others struggling with mental illness, Lovato started the Mental Health Fund, which provides people with free counseling during the COVID-19 pandemic. In society, asking for help can be seen as a weakness. Lovato believes otherwise. In an interview with Deseret News, Lovato said, “The strongest thing someone can do is take that first step in getting help, whatever shape or form that is.” This charity raises money for the Crisis Text Line and crisis counseling options in Canada and the United Kingdom. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the public’s mental health so organizations like these have a significant impact on society.
  2. Kristen Bell. Actress Kristen Bell is a longtime and well-known advocate of mental health awareness. Fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness, Bell believes mental health check-ins should be as common as going to the dentist or doctor. Bell has struggled with depression and has spoken about why mental health screenings should be taken more seriously. There are often stereotypes surrounding depression, but like Bell said in an interview with NAMI, “You can’t tell someone has depression just by looking at them, especially since it’s such an internal battle.” With celebrities like Bell speaking about their own struggles with mental illness, fans will better see that there is no shame in asking for help.
  3. Simone Biles. Simone Biles is the most awarded gymnast in history. The Olympian also has her own battles with mental illness. Biles goes to therapy on a regular basis and takes anxiety medication. These revelations arose after Biles stood up as a survivor of Larry Nassar’s abuse. Victims of sexual assault have an increased risk of developing PTSD, depression and anxiety. In 2017, Biles partnered with the #BeUnderstood campaign, which advocated for learning disabilities and ADHD awareness during the month of October. Biles has also spoken out about her experience with ADHD.
  4. Chyler Leigh. Chyler Leigh, known for her roles on Grey’s Anatomy and Supergirl, has not shied away from sharing her experiences with bipolar disorder. As the new face for the Be Vocal: Speak Up campaign, Leigh shared her experiences of growing up without a diagnosis. Leigh says that she did not have an environment where she could speak up, so she kept quiet. She also spoke about self-medicating with alcohol and the struggle she went through with getting help. Joining Be Vocal was a way of opening up to the public. By sharing her story, Leigh hoped for people to hear her experience and relate, knowing that they are not alone in feeling that way.
  5. Justin Bieber. In his YouTube docuseries “Seasons,” Justin Bieber gave his fans an inside look at his struggles with addiction and mental health challenges. His addiction to marijuana became so serious that he became dependent on it. He also spoke about his use of stronger substances like MDMA or hallucinogenic mushrooms. Bieber got help and replaced illegal substances with antidepressants. In his efforts to help advocate for mental health, Bieber gave a fan $100,000 to support her career in social work. Part of the donation helped the fan attend grad school while the rest of it went to Active Minds, an organization that raises mental health awareness for college students.

Global Mental Health

Though raising mental health awareness domestically is essential, there are many people without access to proper mental healthcare globally. As of 2016, high-income nations spent around 5% of their health budgets on mental health. For lower-middle-class nations, that number fell to less than 2%. There are fewer trained psychiatrists in developing countries, which makes it hard to address everyone’s illnesses.

In Indonesia, there was one psychiatrist for every 350,000 people. Haiti, a country with roughly 10 million people, has only about “10 licensed psychiatrists.” Without the proper funding, developing countries struggle to make mental health a priority.

Spreading Awareness

Mental health issues are very common in society, but they often do not spark the necessary discussion. Part of this reason is because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Everyone is capable of contributing to mental health awareness. By posting about mental health on social media, donating to mental health organizations or supporting people with resources, an ordinary individual can contribute to improving mental health globally.

– Ariel Dowdy
Photo: Flickr

Demi Lovato Named New Healing and Education Through the Arts AmbassadorOn September 23, Save the Children named pop sensation Demi Lovato as their new ambassador for Healing and Education Through the Arts (HEART). Teaming with Global Citizen, Lovato and Save the Children act as advocates for the mental health of thousands of children relocated to Iraq’s Kirkuk and Salah al-Din areas.

The HEART program endeavors to provide displaced children in Iraq with new hope and an opportunity for a brighter future after surviving unimaginable hardships.

In the first stage of their partnership, Demi Lovato and Global Citizen will help the world’s foremost child-focused philanthropic organization, Save the Children, by funding the expansion of the HEART program in Iraq. Last year, Save the Children touched the lives of more than 157 million children in 120 countries. Presently, the global HEART initiative assists more than 150,000 children in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe,

Since 2014, war and conflict have displaced more than three million people in Iraq. Many emigrant Yezidi women and girls who escaped ISIS and live in the Kurdistan region of Iraq do not have adequate access to mental health and psychosocial services. Many suffer from vivid “waking nightmares” or are too traumatized to speak. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq states that explosives, artillery and suicide bombings have killed at least 9,153 Iraqis since January 2016. A 2016 UNICEF report proclaimed Iraq to be one of the deadliest locations in the world for children.

According to a HEART spokesperson, the program encourages uprooted children scarred by brutality to process trauma using “drawing, painting, music and other art forms” to rebuild their self-confidence and trust in others

Lovato became a highly visible advocate for mental health issues after sharing her struggles with eating disorders, substance abuse and a bipolar diagnosis. The singer initially worked with Global Citizen in 2016 when she was one of several celebrities who appeared at the Global Citizen Festival in New York. More recently, she joined Global Citizen in Mumbai and Hamburg for the organization’s first festivals in India and Germany.

On her Instagram account, Lovato writes of her desire to “focus on vulnerable communities around the world.” With Global Citizen’s support, Demi hopes to reinforce her own wellness while promoting mental health care throughout the world.

Heather Hopkins

Photo: Flickr