10 celebrities who have opened up about their mental health
While they may seem infinitely glamorous and trouble-free, many celebrities have had highly publicised struggles with mental health and addiction. These issues can begin before fame and fortune or may be triggered by the immense pressure of living in the spotlight. While celebrities may struggle like the rest of us, their profile means that when they share their stories, they can inspire others to seek help.
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Here are 10 celebrities who made the brave decision to share their struggles, shedding light on the pervasive issue of mental health and providing solace to many who face similar challenges.
Renowned for her soulful voice, Adele has candidly discussed her experiences with depression, especially following the birth of her son:
Postpartum depression is a common, yet often overlooked, condition affecting many new mothers, and Adele’s confession underscores the importance of opening dialogue on such topics. Adele also recently gave up drinking after saying she was a “borderline alcoholic”, a situation which was likely exacerbated by her mental health struggles and her father’s years of alcoholism, underscoring the genetic and family roots of many addictions.
2. Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher played the iconic Princess Leia in Star Wars but her battles with bipolar disorder were far bigger than anything on screen and triggered years of substance use. Fisher explained:
Fisher openly struggled with cocaine addiction and addiction to the prescription drugs she was prescribed for bipolar. She sadly died in 2017 at the age of 60 with the coroner reporting traces of cocaine, heroin and MDMA in her blood. Carrie’s story and her raw description of the pain she felt remind us that addiction and mental health disorders are not mere states of mind but tangible, debilitating conditions.
3. Nicki Minaj
The queen of rap bravely shared how her depression led to contemplations of suicide, illustrating that success and fame do not immunise you against mental health struggles:
While the rapper never explained why she felt that way, her childhood was incredibly traumatic, with her father, addicted to drugs and alcohol, once trying to burn their house down with her mother inside. Minaj’s own decades-long period of alcohol use ended in 2022 when she decided to go sober, showing that it is possible to overcome even deep-seated addiction and its mental health triggers.
4. Lady Gaga
Despite her meteoric rise to stardom, Lady Gaga is another music star who has opened up about her mental health journey. Her candidness about her experiences with depression and anxiety are a testament to the importance of self-care and seeking help:
Lady Gaga also revealed in 2020 that she was considering sobriety but didn’t feel ready yet. This is a common thread in those with alcohol use issues, and while it can be frustrating for loved ones, it is important to understand that the person needs to be ready for withdrawal and recovery to be successful. Gaga’s father revealed that he was three years sober in 2023, perhaps speaking to the inherited or environmental roots of the singer’s struggles.
5. J.K. Rowling
The intricate mind behind the Harry Potter series, Rowling has spoken publicly about depression both before and after her success. She gave a haunting description of depression, illuminating the depth of despair many face daily and emphasising the need for understanding and empathy:
This underscores the isolation that mental health disorders can cause, with sufferers feeling there is nobody who will understand what they are going through. These disorders thrive when they are able to isolate a person from those who could help, so it is crucial for all of us to look out for those who may be suffering in silence.
6. Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez has had a complex history with both physical and mental health disorders, which she has shared with her fans to shed light on the conditions and encourage others to seek help. Selena’s earliest struggles were with lupus and its psychological impacts, evidencing the intricate relationship between physical and mental ailments:
Chronic physical illnesses can be significant triggers for mental health challenges, highlighting the importance of holistic healthcare. In 2022, Gomez also made a documentary about her recent bipolar disorder diagnosis. This won her a well-deserved award for bringing awareness to mental health, particularly her millions of young fans worldwide.
7. Kit Harington
As the star of one of television’s biggest-ever shows, Game of Thrones, Harington’s vulnerable admission about his mental health, substance abuse and subsequent rehab stay showcases the immense pressures of fame:
Harington also said that prior to rehab, his depression drove him to contemplate suicide and that he hopes his experiences could help others:
Kit’s journey through suicidal thoughts and self-realisation is a potent reminder of the internal battles many face, often in silence, but also that there is hope if you seek the right treatment.
8. Halle Berry
Berry’s confession about considering suicide post-divorce underscores the profound effects of life changes on mental well-being:
Her confession not only speaks of her personal anguish but also touches upon the broader impacts of mental health on families. Addiction is often described as a “family illness”, but many other mental health conditions also similarly affect loved ones. Fortunately, as in Halle’s case, family can also be one of the biggest motivational pillars on the road to recovery.
9. Prince Harry
Prince Harry’s acknowledgement of his emotional suppression after his mother’s tragic death and subsequent close breakdowns emphasises the devastating effects of grief and bereavement:
Harry’s previous struggles with drug and alcohol, often as coping mechanisms, further underlines the intertwined relationship between mental distress and substance abuse. Today, Harry has become a vocal advocate for mental health awareness. He now takes time daily to check in with himself and practise self-care by taking the dog for a walk, meditating or spending time in nature.
10. Tom Felton
Felton’s heart-wrenching account of substance abuse in his 2022 memoir Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard post the immense fame of the Harry Potter series serves as a cautionary tale of the perils of stardom:
Felton ultimately entered detox and rehab, but it took him three attempts to get sober after quitting the first time and being ejected the second for breaking the rules. He described the decision to go back as “one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make,” but explained in his book that he hoped the story would inspire others not to give up.
While the lives of celebrities often appear glamorous, their candid confessions serve as reminders of the shared human experience of mental health struggles. Most importantly, as the media will pick through people who know every detail of their lives, these celebrities should be celebrated for their courage in speaking out about the most sensitive topics in their lives. Their unique position in the public eye means that celebrity stories can inspire other people to seek help, practise self-awareness and foster an environment of understanding and compassion.
If these celebrities’ accounts have inspired you or you are struggling with addiction or mental health issues, contact UKAT today to find out how we can help.
(Click here to see works cited)
- ABC News. “PrimeTime: Carrie Fisher Interview.” ABC News, 20 December 2000, https://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132315&page=1. Accessed 23 October 2023.
- Chiu, Melody. “Selena Gomez Taking a Break After Lupus Complications.” People, 19 December 2019, https://people.com/celebrity/selena-gomez-taking-a-break-after-lupus-complications/. Accessed 23 October 2023.
- Harris, Tom, et al. “It takes real courage to speak out about mental health. Let Prince Harry encourage many others.” The Telegraph, 16 April 2017, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2017/04/16/takes-real-courage-speak-mental-health-let-prince-harry-encourage/. Accessed 23 October 2023.
- Huffington Post. “Nicki Minaj Talks Contemplating Suicide.” HuffPost, 7 October 2011, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nicki-minaj-tells-cosmo-she-contemplated-suicide_n_1000209. Accessed 23 October 2023.
- New York Daily News. “Halle Berry admits suicide attempt – New York Daily News.” New York Daily News, 29 March 2007, https://www.nydailynews.com/2007/03/29/halle-berry-admits-suicide-attempt/. Accessed 23 October 2023.
- Oprah Winfrey Show. “The Brilliant Mind Behind Harry Potter.” Oprah Winfrey, 1 October 2010, https://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/the-brilliant-mind-behind-harry-potter/all. Accessed 23 October 2023.
- Rainbird, Ashleigh. “Lady Gaga opens up about mental heath issues as she reveals superstardom left her “traumatised” – Mirror Online.” The Mirror, 11 September 2016, https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/lady-gaga-opens-up-mental-8813332. Accessed 23 October 2023.
- The Times. “Game of Thrones’s Kit Harington on sobering up and settling down.” The Times, 7 August 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kit-harington-game-of-thrones-sobering-up-settling-down-baby-rosie-leslie-z3xv2c3s9. Accessed 23 October 2023.
- Weaver, Hilary. “Adele Opens Up About Parenting and Postpartum Depression.” Vanity Fair, 31 October 2016, https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2016/10/adele-postpartum-depression-parenting. Accessed 23 October 2023.