Mental health struggles and addiction are never easy topics of discussion, but when someone starts the conversation, necessary doors begin to open. Shawn Mendes recently spoke about mental health via an Instagram post regarding his upcoming world tour.
Mendes recently canceled several tour dates in order to give himself a much-needed pause. Upon kicking off an exciting new tour, he soon realized he wasn’t adequately prepared for the demands on his health. A couple of weeks later, Mendes shared a vulnerable and open message with fans — canceling the remaining tour dates across America and the UK.
While the admission was hard for fans to hear, it was a life-changing decision that Mendes needed to make. Within minutes, his comments section was flooded with support, and at that moment — his fans understood that his well-being was the most important thing.
We often look at celebrities through a different lens than we do our friends and loved ones. They’re larger than life, seemingly living in a different realm of existence, and often seen as idols to fans of their work.
The truth is, they’re people with jobs, just like us, and while those jobs may be otherworldly, they don’t remove the very real fact that stress, struggles, mental health worries, and addiction can still touch them.
When celebrities are open about things like mental health and addiction, it starts important conversations. Not only are they able to seek help and share tips with friends and loved ones, but those who look up to them can also see their vulnerability and perhaps find comfort there.
From movie stars to musicians, several in the entertainment realm have spoken up about mental health, especially since the pandemic hit, and have opened doors for themselves and for others. From anxiety and depression to addiction and substance abuse — their honesty has allowed fans to see them without the idea that they’re untouchable.
Here are some celebrities who have talked about mental health on their social media platforms and used their voices to help their fans feel less alone.
Jamie Campbell Bower
Jamie Campbell Bower is stealing hearts in his most recent television role in the ever-popular series Stranger Things. Playing Henry Creel and Vecna, he’s making people swoon (sometimes uncomfortably) and stealing the show.
So, when he used his social media platform to open up about a struggle with addiction, fans were even more impressed with his openness.
In a series of tweets just days ago, Bower shared that he’s overcome addiction and has been sober for over seven years.
“12 and a half years ago, I was in active addiction. Hurting myself and those around me who I loved the most. It got so bad that eventually, I ended up in a hospital for mental health. I am now 7 1/2 years clean and sober. I have made many mistakes in my life. But each day is a chance to start again. Atone for mistakes and grow.
For anyone who wakes up thinking, “Oh God, not again,” I promise you there’s a way. I’m so grateful to be where I am. I’m so grateful to be sober. I’m so grateful to be. Remember, we are all works in progress. – J x”
Sharing gratitude for his health, he’s proud of his journey — and rightfully so. He also reminded fans that we’re all going through life one day at a time, taking wins with losses — and it’s okay to experience both.
Chris Evans has spoken about anxiety several times, which he’s struggled with for quite a while. As Captain America, one of Marvel’s greatest superheroes, for a decade — fans look up to Evans for several reasons.
When Evans opened the conversation about mental health, he not only took a weight off his shoulders, but also showed his fans a new hero — one they could relate to.
Evans spoke to Rolling Stone about anxiety, and something that really gets to him is something he’s had to do a lot.
“A red carpet lasts, what, 30 minutes tops? But that to me is like 30 minutes of walking on hot coals. It’s not like a junket – junkets you sit in a room and they bring ’em in. I can do that all day and not have a meltdown. But the premiere – that’s overwhelming. It’s the volume of it: You’re in the center of this thing. You can fight a whole army if they line up one at a time. But if they surround you, you’re fucked.”
Evans has also spoken about anxiety on several other occasions, like a tweet he shared when he simply felt anxious for no reason and decided to call it an early night. It was nothing profound, but something that made fans think, “Hey, we’ve been there too.”
Knowing that even fictional superheroes have anxiety is a nod to Evans’ bravery in sharing his story.
Demi Lovato has frequently spoken out about addiction and mental health struggles, along with sharing supportive messages to fans on similar paths.
Lovato is no stranger to experiencing ups and downs, intense highs and lows, and most of theirs have happened in the spotlight. Growing up in the industry, Lovato is familiar with the weight that the entertainment business can add.
Speaking to Elvis Duran, Lovato said that she is bipolar but doesn’t use it as a label — and would prefer that you didn’t either.
“I think when people refer to me as being bipolar, it’s something that is true—I am bipolar—but I don’t like people to use it as a label. It’s something that I have, it’s not who I am. I think Demi Lovato, activist, is something that I would really be proud of. I think it’s important to speak up about the things that you believe in because your voice will be heard no matter what position you’re in. And I just happen to be in a position where more people will hear my voice than they would have 10, 15 years ago. I use my voice to do more than just sing and I use it to speak up about mental health because that’s something I’m very passionate about. I’d say the whole world knows the real me because there’s nothing that I hide.”
Lovato almost lost their life to addiction and mental health struggles in July of 2018 and shared a deep sense of vulnerability in a song titled “Dancing with the Devil.” It was an emotional look at the night she almost passed away and the toll it took on them physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Emma Stone is someone else who has shared their journey with anxiety — and for Stone, it began when she was a child. Her first panic attack hit her at a friend’s house, which was unbearable. Glamour notes that Stone felt she just couldn’t snap out of it.
“Before I went into second grade, I had my first panic attack. It was really, really terrifying and overwhelming; I was over at a friend’s house and all of a sudden I was absolutely convinced the house was on fire and it was going to burn down. I was just sitting in her bedroom, and obviously the house wasn’t on fire—but there was nothing in me that didn’t think we weren’t going to die.”
Stone explained that her anxiety was so severe that she couldn’t leave her home. At a panel called Great Minds Think Unalike, alongside Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D. — she shared more personal details about anxiety.
“I couldn’t go to friends’ houses, I had deep separation anxiety with my mom…. I was so paranoid about everything. We truly thought I wasn’t going to be able to move out of the house and move away ever. How would I go to college? How would I do any of this if I couldn’t be at a friend’s house for five minutes?”
After going through therapy, she realized that it wasn’t taboo, and she could open up about it and even see that it’s not something she suffered from alone.
“It’s so normal. Everyone experiences a version of anxiety or worry in their lives, and maybe we go through it in a different or more intense way for longer periods of time, but there’s nothing wrong with you.”
Kerry Washington is an advocate for mental healthcare, and she’s shared stories of her own struggles and how she worked through them.
Washington began seeing a therapist in college when she suffered from a severe eating disorder, as Self notes. Anyone who has struggled with eating issues knows it is a mental and physical ailment, affecting you in every way possible.
In a chat with Michelle Obama and Sarah Jessica Parker for Glamour, Washington said she was happy to speak about therapy and relying on a therapist (alongside friends and family) because it’s essential to be open about the discussion.
“I mean, yeah. Absolutely. I say that publicly because I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health…. 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?”
Washington is correct; the stigma around mental health must be broken so that we can visit a psychiatrist or therapist as easily as we can go to our general practitioner or the dentist.
Ryan Reynolds is a leading man in Hollywood; handsome, hilarious, and charming — and he also struggles with anxiety. Reynolds has spoken about mental health struggles before and notes something that is important for all of us to realize, whether we’re suffering from mental health or not. Anxiety, depression, addiction, etc. — can all make you feel very alone.
A key to getting through struggles for Reynolds is to talk about them.
Reynolds told Entertainment Tonight that it was vital for him to speak out for his daughters and to show them how important it is to talk about mental health.
“Part of that is to de-stigmatize things and create a conversation around mental health, I know that when I felt at the absolute bottom it’s usually been because I felt like I was alone in something I was feeling. So I think when people talk about it, I don’t necessarily dwell on it or lament on it, but I think it’s important to talk about it. And when you talk about it, it kind of sets other people free.”
Reynolds doesn’t just speak about his mental health for his own sake, he does it to help others too. Using his platform and his voice for good, he is helping sufferers to realize that they’re not alone.
Drew Barrymore has frequently shared stories about addiction and mental health struggles throughout her life. She has struggled with substance abuse since she was young and was placed in a mental health facility by age 14.
She was also emancipated from her mother before she was old enough to figure it all out. She spent her childhood struggling with serious situations and circumstances, and she’s worked hard to move past that and find solid ground to build a new foundation.
During a taping of her talk show, Barrymore visited the facility she was in as a child and had an emotional experience while standing outside of it.
“Life is so wonderful compared to what it was in this place. I can’t even believe I actually get to be where I am now because when I was here I didn’t see that, I thought I would be here forever. I never thought I was going to make it to somewhere better and I am just so happy with my life and I don’t know if I would have the life I have if it wasn’t for a place like this. So it was so important to come here today and just like honor this.”
Hearing her openness about her fears of never making it out or ever being okay again was heartbreaking, but it was also eye-opening for any of her fans and followers who have felt that same pain. Barrymore shares joy wherever she can, and if you need a reason to smile, you should check out her TikTok page — she experiences life the way we all should, with unadulterated joy.
Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson is an advocate for access to care for those who have a mental illness, and she is also someone who suffers from depression and anxiety herself. Henson has shared that she sees a therapist when she struggles but is not setting off to make a change solely for herself.
She is also the host of a Facebook Watch series called Peace of Mind with Taraji, which aims to open the door for mental health discussions. She also began a healthcare initiative in her father’s honor.
The Borris Lawrence Henson Foundation‘s about page lists the following information regarding Henson’s dedication to the initiative and their hopes moving forward. They want to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health once and for all.
“Named in honor of Boris Lawrence Henson, father of founder Taraji P. Henson, who suffered mental health challenges without resources or support, the Foundation exists to both normalize and improve access to mental health services for Black communities in hopes of eradicating the stigma around seeking help and support.”
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Henson shared that she’d recently suffered thoughts of suicidal ideation.
“I’m much better…It’s called suicide ideation and it’s not that you’re really gonna go forth with it, it’s just thoughts running through your mind when you’re at your lowest, and for me, because I’m in therapy, I knew that saying it out loud and getting it out of my head would deaden it.”
Henson’s work with mental health initiatives is noteworthy, and she has taken the extra step to ensure that people don’t have to suffer alone.
Jay-Z is a believer in therapy for struggles with mental health and has opened up about the enlightening ways talking to a professional has opened his mind.
Speaking to Dean Baquet of the New York Times, Jay-Z talked about going to therapy and how connected our emotions are — how they play so profoundly into everything we do.
“I grew so much from the experience,” he said of going to therapy. “But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. And just being aware of it. Being aware of it in everyday life puts you at such a … you’re at such an advantage. You know, you realize that if someone’s racist toward you, it ain’t about you. It’s about their upbringing and what happened to them, and how that led them to this point. You know, most bullies bully. It just happens. Oh, you got bullied as a kid so you trying to bully me. I understand.”
Going to therapy also helped him in his interactions with others, and he could step out of situations to look at what might be causing someone to act in a hurtful way. It wasn’t an overnight process, but it was something that Jay-Z feels now benefits him.
“And once I understand that, instead of reacting to that with anger, I can provide a softer landing and maybe, ‘Aw, man, is you O.K.?’ I was just saying there was a lot of fights in our neighborhood that started with ‘What you looking at? Why you looking at me? You looking at me?’ And then you realize: ‘Oh, you think I see you. You’re in this space where you’re hurting, and you think I see you, so you don’t want me to look at you. And you don’t want me to see you,'” he said. “You don’t want me to see your pain. You don’t … So you put on this shell of this tough person that’s really willing to fight me and possibly kill me ’cause I looked at you. You know what I’m saying, like, so … Knowing that and understanding that changes life completely.”
Jay-Z didn’t just use the knowledge he got in therapy for his own good; sharing it with his fans has been a necessary step in helping them overcome their own struggles.
The late Chester Bennington often shared clues into his mental health struggles — specifically in songs and interviews. Lead singer for Linkin Park, the lyrics to their songs were often written for those who struggled with anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness and pain.
Bennington was no stranger to pain, and he often tried to share his own story in order to help fans who admired him. In a chat with LoudWire, Bennington spoke in depth about his struggles and how the song “Heavy” was a way to put those thoughts and emotions into words.
“I don’t know if anybody out there can relate, but I have a hard time with life… sometimes. Sometimes it’s great, but a lot of times for me, it’s really hard. And no matter how I’m feeling, I always find myself struggling with certain patterns of behavior… I find myself stuck in the same thing that keeps repeating over and over again, and I’m just, like, ‘How did I end up…? How am I in this?’ And it’s that moment where you’re in it and then you can just separate yourself from that situation and you look at it and you see it for what it is and you’re able to then do something about it; you’ve now broken out of that circle, that cycle.”
Bennington passed away in 2017, but his message and his legacy will continue in the hearts of fans forever. As an advocate for getting help, Bennington ensured that those who love Linkin Park will always have a light to look to in a time of need.
Actress Constance Wu recently spoke about her struggles with mental health, which originated from something that happened on social media. Her bravery in opening up to share how a situation kept her offline for years and also inspired her to be honest about her struggles is so important.
“I was afraid of coming back on social media because I almost lost my life from it: 3 years ago, when I made careless tweets about the renewal of my TV show, it ignited outrage and internet shaming that got pretty severe. I felt awful about what I’d said, and when a few DMs from a fellow Asian actress told me I’d become a blight on the Asian American community, I started feeling like I didn’t even deserve to live anymore. That I was a disgrace to AsAms, and they’d be better off without me.”
A friend helped save Wu’s life after she found her after a suicide attempt, and she knew she had to get help. She continued by saying that Asian Americans don’t often talk about mental health.
“Asian Americans don’t talk about mental health enough. While we’re quick to celebrate representation wins, there’s a lot of avoidance around the more uncomfortable issues within our community.”
Breaking open the stigma to talk about mental health is an essential step for Wu to take, for herself and for those who feel trapped without being able to share their struggles.
These celebrities and countless others have helped start the necessary conversations to open doors for better access to healthcare for mental illness and addiction and to remind us all that we’re not alone in our struggles.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. A list of international crisis resources can be found here.