Dear Celebrities with a Mental Illness,
Hi hope life is good. Life is hard for all of us sometimes. As you know mental illness does not discriminate , its an equal opportunities illness. No matter who you are , where your from , what you ve done if mental illness wants you it can have you . Genes and environment…. well take your pick what’s the story with both.
So I call you a celebrity and what’s a celebrity to me . Well I call a celebrity someone who has alot of public interest and media interest. So a celebrity to me could be a politician , a movie star , a author , a cook , a presenter , a sportsman or woman , a TV presenter ,a journalist or anyone with enough public interest .The simple definition for me is the level of public interest in that person.
The key is that you are in the public eye and your every move is magnified . Not any easy place to be I imagine. Especially not easy if you suffer a mental illness. Mental illness is difficult enough to mange if your just an ordinary Joe Soap like myself. But it must incredible tough if you have people scrutinising your every move. Hey we all make mistakes I have made my fair share. Doesn’t mean we want the whole world to know about them . So you spent a month in a psychiatric hospital and it was one of your toughest experiences in your life . Who wants that splashed all over the tabloids with headlines likes ” Crazy Insert Name spends month in Psychiatric Hospital ” . I have a mental illness I can empathise about Psychiatric Hospitals. Some are brilliant enlightening places , some are hell holes . No one wants to play the which one is it Psychiatric Hospital Lottery.
But what I really want to say to you is your Famous ! Congrats ! But as is so often quoted from Spider man ” With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility ” . Like it or lump it you are a Role Model . Boom I said it ! People look up to you , some people want to be like you . People read about you , people follow your work , people care about your life.
Role Model eh … What you do and say matters. The words Role Model I hope hits you like a bucket of ice cold water being poured over your head . Kids and Teenagers look up to you and adults too . And If you choose to disclose your mental illness publicly I commend you as I am not brave enough to do that . And if you choose not to disclose your mental illness publicly I deeply respect that as I know what its like.
But if you choose to disclose your mental illness publicly which is to be highly commended as it is #FightingStigma , there is even a bigger responsibility on you as you are partly representing me and my kind …. humankind which includes those with mental illnesses.
So if your lifestyle leads people to think that people with schizophrenia , bipolar , anorexia , OCD , depression or any mental illness are crazy lunatics who are not fit to be employed, loved or treated with respect. Well then sorry . Thats not cool. I dont appreciate that or respect that. And most people with a mental illness dont. But I do understand that we all make mistakes and sometimes are not responsible for our actions in the grips of mental illness.
But I m not talking about when you are not well .I m talking about how you represent yourself when you are well. The general public s perceptions and misconceptions about mental illness are informed by what’s written in the newspapers and by whats shown on TV about celebrities with mental illness. And if the general public is misinformed then it is the ordinary joe soap with a mental illness who has to suffer the shame and stigma due to misinformation in the public media.
But if you are one of the countless celebrities who uses their position to raise awareness of mental illness , to fight stigma , to give hope. Then I salute you. May we fight the battle of stigma in society together . May we make this world a better place. And by we I mean all who suffer from a mental illness and all those great teachers, parents, nurses, doctors, psychotherapists ,journalists , celebrities, newspapers, and employers who make our life easier.
Celebrities such as Stephan Fry , Marian Keyes, Frank Bruno , Alastair Campbell ,Catherine Zeta Jones ,Elton John ,Sinead O’Connor have all been great examples of Celebrities making life better for ordinary people with mental illness through educating the public , fighting stigma and helping charities . You can go to this website to see an extensive list of celebrities with mental illness who have been very successful http://www.mentalhealthadvocacyinc.org/role-models .