Shannon Purser Talks Body Positivity & Mental Health 'Stigma': 'I Will Sing the Praises of Therapy'

Shannon Purser revealed to PEOPLE she was diagnosed with a "really, really bad case" of OCD several years ago

Shannon Purser. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Shannon Purser isn’t afraid to speak out about her own personal issues in the hopes that it will start a greater conversation.

The 20-year-old actress, who nabbed an Emmy nomination for her role as the beloved Barb on Stranger Things, who has previously spoken candidly about everything from her sexuality to her past struggles with self-harm, is opening up about body image, mental health and the power of therapy.

PEOPLE caught up with the Riverdale star at the Variety Power of Young Hollywood Event sponsored by H&M in Los Angeles on Tuesday, where she revealed she had been diagnosed with OCD several years ago.

“I had a really, really bad case of it,” she said. “Everybody hears OCD and they think, ‘Okay, you like to clean or be organized.’ That’s really not what it is, especially not for everybody.”

“In my case, it was me being super self-conscious, to the point where it was debilitating,” she said. “I didn’t feel comfortable talking to people. It’s incredible, but I will sing the praises of therapy. I think everybody should be in therapy. It helps so much to have somebody educated you can talk to.”

“It’s been a crazy year,” she added. “But I think I’ve kind of landed on my feet, which I’m thankful for.”

The actress, who stressed how important mental health is to her, wants to encourage others to speak openly about the topic.

“I think there’s a big stigma surrounding that right now,” she said. “And it’s one that I would really love to kind of help clear up and shed some light on.”

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Purser also admitted that while she’s made significant improvement, she still struggles at times.

“It’s a process, and I still have days where I’m very hyper-aware,” she said. “But I think the biggest thing has been body positivity has been really important to me.”

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Purser says it’s important to reaffirm yourself and work toward becoming “comfortable in your skin, and not feeling the pressure to conform to what other people say is the ideal body image.”

“I don’t have a typical body type, and that used to be something that made me feel very alone and weird,” she admitted. “I’ve gotten so many messages from people saying like, ‘It’s so refreshing to see somebody who looks like me on TV,’ and that really means the world to me.”

“I think,” she added, “once I kind of got to a place of self-acceptance, looking past all the insecurities that I have, I’ve really grown so much as a person.”

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