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

Celebrities Donating to Fight COVID-19
COVID-19 continues to threaten the world. Although celebrities cannot be on the frontlines, they are doing their part in the battle against the virus. From creating their own nonprofit organizations to donating to global charities, these public figures continue to support the improvement of global poverty and health. Here are five celebrities donating to fight COVID-19.

5 Celebrities Donating to Fight COVID-19

  1. Justin Bieber: Back in February 2020, before COVID-19 began largely affecting the U.S., Canadian-born singer Justin Bieber made a donation to the Bejing Chunmiao Children Aid Foundation. The organization, a public charity, focuses on bringing health, home and joy to underprivileged children in China. In Bieber’s donation announcement post on Instagram, he said, “China, we stand with you as a collective humanity.” Bieber recognized the importance of donating globally as countries fell one by one to COVID-19. A month later, he canceled his 2020 U.S. national tour to protect the well-being of his fans.
  2. Lady Gaga: When COVID-19 struck, singer sensation Lady Gaga took it upon herself to do more than just donate. She wanted to give voice to underprivileged communities, essential workers and volunteers risking their lives to help others. In collaboration with international advocacy organization Global Citizen, Gaga created the “One World: Together at Home” broadcast. This 8-hour fundraising phenomenon included performances and videos from superstars like John Legend and Beyonce. The event raised $127 million. All of the money is for the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and UNICEF.
  3. Priyanka Chopra Jonas: At the end of March 2020, Priyanka Chopra and husband Nick Jonas announced that they donated undisclosed amounts to 10 organizations, including UNICEF and Doctors without Borders, to do their part in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Chopra, an Indian actress, also has her own organization, The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education. The Foundation works to support underprivileged children across India. A global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Chopra is part of many efforts to protect child rights and promote education for girls.
  4. Rihanna: Popstar Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty created The Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF)  in 2012. The nonprofit aims to protect and improve education and emergency response programs around the world. The organization donated $5 million to global COVID-19 response organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Rescue Committee. Additionally, CLF also joined forces with Twitter/Square CEO Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation to donate $6.2 million to 11 organizations responding to COVID-19’s global impact.
  5. Jack Dorsey: Along with partnering with Rihanna and Jay-Z, billionaire Jack Dorsey pledged $1 billion, 28% of his net worth, to his own limited liability company called Start Small. Furthermore, Dorsey intends the fund to support global COVID-19 relief and girls’ health and education. Although he has not specified how much of the $1 billion will go to COVID-19 relief, Dorsey is maintaining transparency. He tracks all donations on a spreadsheet open to the public. If 10% of the fund goes to supporting the COVID-19 crisis, the donation would be the largest from a public philanthropist in the U.S. during this pandemic.

These five celebrities donating to fight COVID-19 show that while some celebrities invest money into existing global charities and others create their own, all fight to improve people’s livelihoods. These celebrities serve as a reminder to use privilege and societal standing to benefit those who are less privileged, especially during a global pandemic when the entire world is struggling.

– Kiyomi Kishaba 
Photo: Flickr

Legendary pop king Michael Jackson has been dead for the past five years, but the sentiment of his charity single “We are the World” rings on brightly and truly. The charity single was originally composed by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and performed by USA for Africa to promote humanitarian efforts against famine in Africa.

Since its release in 1985, the globally-successful super-hit single has gone on to sell over 20 million copies, raising over $63 million for charity and has gleaned three Grammy Awards, an honor regarded as the highest accomplishment in the American music industry.

Following its original release, venerated artists have continued to remake the single. For instance, preserving the benevolence and enthusiasm of the original recording, over eighty artists, including the likes of Justin Bieber and Janet Jackson, participated in recording “We Are the World 25 for Haiti” in 2010 following the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. In the months after the earthquake, Haitians scrambled to recover from the widespread mutilation of their homeland.

According to the Disasters Emergency Committee, as a result of the earthquake, 220,000 lives had been lost, 1.5 million civilians lost their homes, and over 19 million meters of debris, a vast enough amount to stretch from London to Beirut, was scattered through Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. In response, artists featured on “We are the World 25 for Haiti” rallied together, forgoing royalties, in order to raise money for aid in Haiti. Although the single received largely negative reviews from critics, it was commercially successful, debuting at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.

Despite the efforts of “We are the World” remake, nearly four years after the earthquake in Haiti, recovery remains slow, with many spectating that relief organizations themselves have misused the aid money. However, progress, albeit timely, has indeed taken place. For instance, the United Nations has pledged to donate $2.2 billion to protect Haitians against cholera, while the Red Cross has donated nearly all of its $486 million in donations to help rebuild the nation.

Although critics allege that most relief efforts that have taken place in Haiti only tackle superficial problems rather than healing more inherent, complex issues that require more than mere repair of infrastructure and clean-up of debris, with donations and international support, Haiti continues to rebuild and recover from the destruction wrought by the 2010 earthquake. As long as people around the globe spread the message of “We Are the World,” Haiti, along with other countries affected by natural disasters, will be able to mend and flourish.

Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: We are the World Foundation, Disasters Emergency Committee, NBC, Billboard, Huffington Post

Justin Bieber Charity
International pop star Justin Bieber flexes his humanitarian muscle in the effort to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines by providing aid relief.

From books to water, Bieber brought along with him necessities and supplies meant to reconstruct the lives of those negatively affected by the largest typhoon to hit the Southeast with roughly over 5,000 individuals dead and many more displaced.

Bieber also participated in the Philippine national pastime by playing basketball matches with locals in the city of Tacloban, the Visayan metropole of the Leyte province, a region largely affected by the storm. Additionally, Bieber sang an accoustic performance to the local community.

In cooperation with UNICEF, Action Against Hunger and the Philam Foundation, Bieber offers numerous prizes if they donate to the cause. Among these is a studio tour or VIP tickets to Bieber’s movie premiere “Believe”.

To date, Bieber has raised $3 million dollars.’s recent philanthropic efforts are a change of pace from recent headlines in the past few months. Bieber was caught on video urinating into a bucket at the back of a New York City restaurant.

A month later, Bieber was in an altercation wherein the 19-year old ripped off his shirt at a New York City club during a confrontation with other patrons. Bieber’s entourage was reported to have gotten physical and involved in an altercation with fellow clients.

Bieber joins fellow celebrities in the push to helping the ravaged country to getting back on its feet. Using Prizeo, Bieber, along with other Prizeo users Samuel L. Jackson, Kirsten Bell and One Direction’s Harry Styles and Liam Payne, promoted a cause and offered rewards.

Whether his image be in the positive or negative light, the estimated net worth of $130 million pop star has undergone a certain stage of rebranding. From being a YouTube sensation towards a developing ‘bad boy’ image, Bieber and his actions will remain in the constant public eye.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: Billboard, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Huffington Post, The Mirror, The Mirror

Since its founding in 2008, Pencils of Promise has been working towards improving access to education around the globe. The non-profit has set out to identify places most in need of educational facilities and then proceeding to build schools in those locations.

However, the organization’s role does not end there. To ensure the sustainability of their projects, Pencils of Promise also offers scholarships, education programs, and hires and trains individuals from local communities to staff their schools. With a focus on long-term success, schools and curricula are also routinely monitored and assessed for efficacy.

Canadian pop sensation, Justin Bieber, has been an avid supporter of Pencils of Promise for many years. In 2011, the smooth-voiced crooner competed in a Magnum Ice Cream contest against Nelly Furtado, Usher, and Jordin Sparks for $20,000 toward their charities of choice.

Bieber ended up easily defeating his opponents and winning the competition, and split the award money evenly between Pencils of Promise and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The following year, the teen star went on to join Pencils of Promise’s founder, Adam Braun, in filming a promotional video encouraging adolescents to create personal fundraising pages on behalf of the organization. The incentive (aside from the gift of giving, of course)? Bieber would pay a visit to the three schools that demonstrated the most impact through fundraising for the Schools4All campaign.

With each $25 contribution, contestants would be compensated with one lottery entry. The more entries and donations one collected, the better the chance that he or she would get to meet Bieber.

According to the singer, “”I wanted to give every one of my fans a chance to help others and bring me to their school for just $25. The Schools4All campaign is a way for us young people to make a change, and I’ll get to thank an entire school in person.”

To further magnify the project’s significance, Bieber also partnered with Barnes & Noble and Nook to match the amount of money generated by fundraising participants and to donate 1,000 Nook readers to students enrolled in Pencils of Promise schools.

Thanks, in no small part to Bieber, Pencils of Promise’s reach continues to grow as it gains prominence. To date, the organization has built 146 schools in countries such as Ghana, Laos, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

From his deep involvement with Pencils of Promise and his commitment to furthering its goals, Bieber sets a prime example of how to use one’s star power to alleviate the ill effects of global poverty.

– Melrose Huang

Sources: Huffington Post, PR Newswire
Photo: PopCrush