Mental Health Issues: A Lot More Common Than You Think

Content warning: The following article speaks about mental illnesses, including Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, anxiety and depression, as well as about sexual assault.


Mental health issues and the people struggling with them are everywhere, and yet they go unnoticed. The stigma that surrounds mental health should decline as more people become educated on the topic, but the reality is that ignorance still exists. Today, many people still place negative labels behind mental illness, and people do not feel like they can open up and share what they are going through. As social media grows, some of the biggest names in music have opened up about their struggles with mental health. Artists like Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez have found the strength and courage to open about their mental illnesses and help shed light on how they dealt with it.


Source: BeVocalSpeakUp


Demi Lovato is perhaps one of the first artists in modern music to speak up and shed light on being hospitalized for mental illness. Her 2011 album Unbroken was a tribute to her battle with Bipolar Disorder.  Lovato now reflects on her diagnosis with relief, saying that "Getting the diagnosis kind of explained why [she] would act out". She says, "So when I was diagnosed, I went back and told my manager and my parents and my closest friends. I was like, 'Hey, so I'm bipolar …that's why….'". The ability to get this diagnosis and level of care is what motivates Lovato in her work as a mental health advocate. "Four out of ten people with mental illness get help," she says, "you have to wonder about the other six".


Demi is anything but shy about her journey, and is willing to open up and share her experiences through her fanbase, the “Lovatics”, as a way of ensuring they too are able to seek help. Lovato is also the leader of Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, an initiative that encourages people to share their stories of mental illness. Taking this campaign to social media has helped millions of people know it is okay to seek help.


Lady Gaga, known for her infamous raw meat dress, has for the first time in her career opened up about her long battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The singer opened up on a surprise visit to a centre for homeless LGBTQ+ youth in New York, saying kindness from friends and family had ‘saved her life’.


The singer, 28, first spoke out about her sexual assault on the Howard Stern show in December 2014. “I was about 19,” she said, “I went to Catholic school and then all this crazy stuff happened, and I was going, ‘Oh, is this just the way adults are?’... I was very naïve.” The multiple-Grammy-Award-winner revealed that she had been raped at the age of 19 by a man who was 20 years older. Gaga opening up about her traumatic past allowed her fans to relate to her.


Source: Vogue


Selena Gomez shocked her fans in the summer of 2016, when she abruptly canceled the remainder of her Revival tour to seek treatment for anxiety and depression. This was her second time ending a major tour; the first being cut short so she could get treatment for lupus. Her return to the spotlight came in November 2016 at the American Music Awards, where she delivered an inspiring speech that touched briefly on her battle with mental illness: "If you are broken, you don't have to stay broken", she said at the time.


To get herself the help that she needed, Selena checked herself into a facility in Tennessee, where she surrendered her cell phone and took part in various forms of therapy (individual therapy, group therapy, equine therapy) with a small group of other young women for a 90-day treatment. As part of the treatment involved giving up her cell phone, Selena was on a social media hiatus for those three months, and while she has since returned to Instagram (where she is the most followed person), she still posts sparingly.


The Selena Gomez fanbase (“Selenators”) are perhaps one of the largest fanbases today. When word spread about the artist’s mental health issues, various forms of awareness on the topic of mental health arose. Gomez herself was able to provide further insight on her illness prior to her return to social media as well.


It is important to understand that one in three people will experience some sort of mental health issue in their lives. The only way to be prepared for such a thing is to be educated about it. If these powerful women in music are able to share their battles and recoveries with mental health, then it should aid others in opening up as well. Mental health and illness is a topic everyone should know about. With the help of such advanced technology, the world is smaller and more connected than ever. We need to treat each other with respect and try to understand what others may be going through.


Photo via Pixabay