10 minute read – Guest Contributor – Alex Moore –
More and more people nowadays struggle with anxiety, depression, and other instances of disorders of the mind. But even with all the advance that medical science has made in the field, there is still a lot of shame and secrecy surrounding the discussion on mental health and seeking help for it. For this reason, having positive role models is essential.
When it comes to a topic as delicate as that of mental health, having strong and famous voices to advocate for awareness is priceless. Here are five of the most important influencers who have opened up about their struggles and created a legacy of acceptance by constantly dispelling taboos.
[This top 5 is in no particular order. ]
Pro-Mental Health Influencers
When it comes to the list of celebrities who have a long-standing legacy in championing mental health, there’s no one quite as inspiring as the late Carrie Fisher. Instead of running away from her problems and trying to hide her bipolar disorder for the sake of her career, the Star Wars actress embraced her troubles and everything that came along with them.
After battling with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as severe body dysmorphia, for years, Fisher was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 24. And when that happened, she fought long and hard to normalize them and prove that you can still be cool, smart and funny in the midst of battling a disorder of the mind.
And even with her recent passing, her teachings will continue to live on. For anyone who has struggled with mental illness, Carrie Fisher will always be more than just Princess Leia Organa. She will be the one who has shown the world that you can be successful and have a great life in spite of your brain chemistry not always being right, and she did it when no one else would.
Renowned young adult fiction novelist John Green took the Twitterverse by storm in March 2015 with a bold Tweet calling for the de-stigmatization of mental illness medication. Then, in a subsequent Reddit AMA, he gave an upliftingly candid answer regarding his battle with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In fact, he was so on point that TIME Magazine has called his approach ‘refreshingly real’. He admitted to coping poorly with his affliction while on book tours, as well as proposed a few treatment alternatives that have worked out for him in the past. His most recent book, Turtles All the Way Down, is a bold exploration of how such issues affect daily life.
And because Green is also a YouTuber, he has used the platform to shed light on his battle and reach out to anyone else who might be in a similar situation to his. When considering that his audience is mostly comprised of teens, the importance of having such a voice in the community cannot be stressed enough.
Another important name on the list of celebrities working on ending the stigma surrounding mental illness has to be former Disney child star and actual singer-songwriter, Demi Lovato. In a heartfelt confessional piece for Elle Magazine, Lovato has opened up about having suicidal thoughts since the young age of seven.
On countless other occasions, she has used her platform as a pop star to reach out to her younger audiences and start a conversation about the importance of self-love. As a former victim of vicious body shaming and cyberbullying, Lovato shared the inspiring story of how she overcame her problems with millions.
And now, she is the leader of Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health. As she stated on the official website for the project, “if you are struggling today with a mental health condition, you may not be able to see it as clearly right away but please don’t give up — things can get better. You are worthy of more and there are people who can help. Asking for help is a sign of strength.”
Bunny Meyer – GRAV3YARDGIRL
The list of pro-mental health YouTubers is an ever-growing one. Channels with a subscriber count situated in the millions such as those of Zoe Sugg (Zoella), Jack Harries (JacksGap) or Gabbie Hanna (formerly known as TheGabbieShow) have become valuable safe spaces where audiences can go and find advice, as well as a platform to express their feelings.
Nevertheless, perhaps the most sincere and genuine approach is that of Texas-based YouTuber Bunny Meyers, which fans know as Grav3yardgirl. Although she has made few videos dealing solely with the topic, Bunny has managed to create a community of like-minded individuals by being fully honest about her struggles with anxiety and depression.
Many of her content from both the main and second channel alike approach the topic with full sincerity, and she always takes the time to address the topics when they are relevant to the discussion at hand. She is yet another living example that it’s possible to lead a fulfilling and happy life while dealing with mental illness in parallel.
The breathtaking supermodel turned actress Cara Delevingne also joined the conversation on mental illness recently. Not only did she take to Twitter to share her views and experience with depression and self-hatred, but she also detailed the struggles she faced during her teenage years at the at the 2015 Women in the World Summit.
Because her career as a model had gained such momentum, Delevingne admits she pushed herself more than she could bear, which led to a mental breakdown and even thoughts of suicide. And now that she is able to share all that with the world, her voice is stronger than ever.
While the five influencers presented above are some of the most prominent voices or the most recent additions to the roster, plenty of other people are taking a stand too. This is why the future of awareness on the topic is now looking brighter than ever. So, what are you waiting for? Join the conversation and share your experience with the world.
Alex Moore is a Psychology Undergraduate who fights for more mental illness exposure and a fair representation of it in media. You’ll typically find him writing for Schizlife.