Mental Health Month

12 Prominent Figures Who've Helped Change Perceptions Of Mental Health By Speaking Out

Breaking down the barriers.

May is Mental Health Month. Throughout the month we will bring you stories about mental health and the importance of breaking surrounding stigmas, as well as highlighting those who live with related conditions and are advocating awareness.

According the the National Alliance on Mental Illness, every year about one in five American adults experiences a mental illness. That is 43.8 million people. Despite the prevalence of these conditions, misinformation that stigmatizes mental illnesses is still widespread. Such misinformation can deter people from seeking the help they need, which is why it's so important we open dialogues about mental health to spread awareness. 

Among those with the most power to make a difference are celebrities and prominent figures who have large platforms to spread a message. When these people speak out about their own experiences with mental illness, it shows others they are not alone, and that they have nothing to be ashamed of. 

We've put together a list of just a few of these people who have spoken out, whose words are an illustration of the power of openness and honesty.  Simply by using their platform as an opportunity to share their stories, these people have inspired countless others to open up about their own experiences, seek help for themselves, or for friends in need. The more we can normalize these issues, the more comfortable we can feel talking about them. 

1. Prince Harry

Albin Hillert I Shutterstock
Albin Hillert I Shutterstock

"I know there is huge merit in talking about your issues and the only thing about keeping it quiet is that it's only ever going to make it worse," Prince Harry told The Telegraph's Bryony Gordon on her podcast, Mad World.

2. Michelle Obama

EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics I Shutterstock
EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics I Shutterstock

"Our mental health seriously affects our physical health. So, there should be no stigma around mental health, none at all," former First Lady Michelle Obama said at the Change Direction summit.

3. Emma Stone

Andrea Raffin I Shutterstock
Andrea Raffin I Shutterstock

"It's so normal. Everyone experiences a version of anxiety in their lives," the actress said in a Child Mind Institute video for their My Younger Self campaign.

4. Carrie Fisher

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Kathy Hutchins I Shutterstock

"Medication has made me a good mother, a good friend, a good daughter," Fisher stated, according to The Associated Press.

5. J.K. Rowling

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Featureflash Photo Agency I Shutterstock

"I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What's to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that," the author told a student journalist, according to HuffPost.

6. Jon Hamm

Tinseltown I Shutterstock
Tinseltown I Shutterstock

"I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral," Jon Hamm told The Guardian.

7. Demi Lovato

Tinseltown I Shutterstock
Tinseltown I Shutterstock

"The problem with mental illness is people don't look at it as a physical illness. When you think about it, the brain is actually the most complex organ in your body. We need to treat it like a physical illness and take it seriously," Glamour reported that Demi Lovato said at the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, DC.

8. Lady Gaga

Tinseltown I Shutterstock
Tinseltown I Shutterstock

Lady Gaga told Billboard, "I've suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day. I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal. We were born that way."

9. Hope Solo

Tinseltown I Shutterstock
Tinseltown I Shutterstock

"You're always going to survive the pain of loss," The Mighty reported that the soccer player said.

10. Brooke Shields

 s_bukley I Shutterstock
 s_bukley I Shutterstock

"If I had been diagnosed with any other disease, I would have run to get help. I would have worn it like a badge. I didn't at first — but finally I did fight. I survived," said the model and actress according to Marie Claire UK.

11. Ellen Degeneres

Kathy Hutchins I Shutterstock
Kathy Hutchins I Shutterstock

"It's so corny but it's true. You have no idea where the darkest times of your life might end, so you have to just keep going," said the talk show host

12. Kerry Washington

Joe Seer I Shutterstock
Joe Seer I Shutterstock

"My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don't know why I wouldn't seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So, why wouldn't I go to a shrink?" Kerry Washington told Glamour.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental illness, there are a number of resources available to provide support. Check them out here.

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