Mental health campaigners: Changing the landscape

Info for Commissioners, Mental Health Awareness

In the last few years, the media has been speaking loud on issues relating to mental health and wellbeing and this long-awaited change cannot come too soon.

Many mental health campaigners are now speaking out and changing the landscape forever. What they are saying and doing significantly reduces the public-perceived stigma surrounding mental health issues which has long been a problem for those living with conditions in the community.

Celebrities who have mental health conditions are now speaking out in the hope that it will also reduce the stigma.

We look at some prolific campaigners and what they are doing which helps move the conversation forward.

Stephen Fry

Diagnosed with bipolar at the age of 37, Stephen Fry has gone on to become one of the UK’s leading mental health campaigners. His documentary ‘The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive’, broke down stigma and he has written many autobiographical books on his journey to recovery.

Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax has experienced episodes of depression for most of her life, and has written widely on the topic as well as talking about it in a comedic way in her one-woman shows as a way of getting the subject out in the open. “We need to take the stigma out of mental illness. People shouldn’t be ashamed of it”, she has said. She recently opened a initiaiteive call ‘Frazzled Cafes’ widely across the UK for anyone experiencing stress to come along and not feel along.

Jonny Benjamin

Jonny’s battle with mental illness went public and viral when a stranger on a bridge helped him stop committing suicide. The story was later turned into a popular TV Documentary. Jonny is now an award-winning mental health campaigner, film producer, public speaker, writer and vlogger. He has been awarded an MBE for his services to mental health and suicide prevention.

Prince William, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge

Royals are unbeatable. They have formed the Heads Together campaign, campaigning to get people talking about mental health issues and break the stigma.

Bryony Gordon

Telegraph journalist, Bryony Gordon has spearheaded a remarkable mental health campaign. Writing candidly and honestly about her own battles with OCD and depression, she also wrote an autobiography, Mad Girl. She set up the Mental Health Mates walk groups to bring people with mental health issues together.

She has since run successful podcasts with people in the public eye talking honestly about their own mental health, including an interview with Prince Harry on grieving the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Recently, Bryony Gordon came out as also an addict who has attended rehab and is continuing to write honestly about her personal battles.

Lady Gaga

This high-profile celebrity recently aired her own private battles in public, saying: “I suffer from PTSD. I’ve never told anyone that before, so here we are. But the kindness that’s shown to me by doctors as well as my family, and my friends, it’s really saved my life.”

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez was diagnosed with the health condition Lupus. Anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are all side effects of the serious autoimmune disease, as Gomez explained when she announced she was taking some time off for her “health and happiness.”

Demi Lovato

As a teen, she struggled with eating disorders, self-harm, a cocaine addiction, and alcohol abuse. She was later diagnosed with bipolar which she successfully manages. She says: “Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day and it’s something that doesn’t get a day off.” She is now a vocal campaigner for youth mental health and is the leader of Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, an initiative that encourages people to share their stories of mental illness.

Ryan Reynolds

The 40-year-old actor said he has struggled with anxiety throughout his life, however it reached an all-time high when filming ‘Deadpool’ a film he produced and starred in. He credits his wife, Blake Lively, with helping him through it.

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt has admitted he struggled with substance misuse and depression in the past. He has said: “I got really sick of myself at the end of the 1990s. I was hiding out from the celebrity thing, I was smoking way too much dope, I was sitting on the couch and just turning into a doughnut and I really got irritated with myself.” He has since made a recovery and is at the top of his game and film career.

Catherine Zeta-Jones

This celebrity went public that she was diagnosed with bipolar condition but wanted people to know that it is possible to manage the condition effectively and live a full life.

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.  These brave people are proof that mental illness can happen to anyone at any time no matter their status, wealth, culture or lifestyle.

If you would like to know more about common mental illnesses that can affect us all please download our Pocket Guide to Common Mental Illnesses and Disorders.

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