'It's Okay Not to Be Strong Sometimes:' 52 Stars Who've Spoken Out About Their Struggles with Mental Health Issues
The Almost Family actress opened up to PEOPLE in October 2007 about her struggles with anorexia, depression and self-harm, and admitted that the public’s reaction to her honesty was “awful.” So awful, in fact, that Snow developed severe anxiety and decided to take a break from the spotlight.
Then in October 2019, the star told InStyle that she’s glad the stigma around mental illness is changing. “So many people are so open with their stories, and it’s very, very cool and accepted that people are sharing their truth.”
She continued: “I might’ve spoken too early, but at the same time, it started and was the impetus for so many changes in my life that have worked out really well, so it’s okay.”
Ultimately, Snow is proud of herself for being open. “I think that that’s a really nice thing to feel like I was a part of, where I can tell my daughter one day, ‘I was really honest when a lot of people weren’t being honest,'” she added. “In my thirties, I can confidently say that it’s almost like another life that I look back and [say], ‘Wow, I was so anxious and scared, and now I’m just not.'”
The singer and younger sister of Miley Cyrus told James Corden on The Late Late Show that her struggle with depression and anxiety inspired her to create an apparel line, the LONELY collection. The line was launched in partnership with The Crystal Campaign to support The Jed Foundation — a nonprofit that protects emotional health and helps prevent suicide for teens and young adults across America. “It’s something very close to my heart,” Cyrus said of her decision.
“I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was 10 or 11 years old. So, I think it’s a huge topic,” she continued. “One of the things that I’ve always wanted to use this platform [for] was to talk about my mental health and help young adults all around America and everywhere in the world know that they’re not alone.”
Though the rapper is known for her sunny disposition, she struggles with depression and has been extremely candid about it on social media.
In fact, the “Truth Hurts” singer told PEOPLE, her depression got so bad that she considered leaving music.
“The day I released ‘Truth Hurts’ was probably one of the darkest days I’ve had ever in my career. I remember thinking, ‘If I quit music now, nobody would notice. This is my best song ever, and nobody cares,’” Lizzo recalled.
“I was like, ‘F— it, I’m done.’ And a lot of people rallied; my producer, my publicist and my family, they were like, ‘Just keep going because this is the darkest before the dawn.’”
She said of the experience: “Now the song that made me want to quit is the song that everyone’s falling in love with me for, which is such a testament to journeys: Your darkest day turns into your brightest triumph.”
Her advice to fans is to give themselves some self-love. “I practice self-love,” Lizzo said, “I look in the mirror and say, ‘I love you. You’re beautiful. You can do anything.’ Tell yourself that on your happy days so that you have the strength to tell yourself that on your darker days.”
Jonathan Van Ness
The Queer Eye star opened up to the Trevor Project in October 2019 about his struggle with depression and anxiety, and how he has learned to process both in a healthy way.
“Depression is not as easy as saying, ‘Just find your joy and you’re going to become happy.’ That was never my experience,” he said. “When we’re identified fully with our depression, it will say, ‘You have no joy, you have no way out.’ There will be a negative, internal critic in our mind that we need to be able to dissociate from and pull ourselves away from.”
Van Ness believes having a support system or someone who can make you realize that you are not alone is extremely important to keep you from feeling shame.
Van Ness explained, “When we’re able to share with someone who we do feel safe with, we can realize that these things that are happening to us don’t make us unloveable and aren’t anything to have as a huge secret and don’t make our future dark and dreary. Actually, we have a really gorgeous future and we deserve love and safety.”
The singer opened up about her mental health when she was awarded the 2019 McLean Award for Mental Health Advocacy. In October 2018, the singer announced that she would be taking a social media break and checked herself into a facility for help with her mental health. A year later, Gomez decided to share her experience.
She said in her acceptance speech, “I think that we are better when we tell the truth and, so, this is my truth: Last year, I was suffering mentally and emotionally, and I wasn’t able to stay all that kept together. I wasn’t able to hold a smile or to keep things normal.”
The singer added, “It felt like all of my pain and anxiety washed over me all at once and it was one of the scariest moments of my life.”
But with help from doctors, Gomez was finally able to get a clear diagnosis and begin to understand her anxiety and depression.
As for why she decided to share what she went through? “For me, it feels right to share that I have personally felt the effects of both depression and anxiety — but it isn’t easy. I have feared being misunderstood and judged,” she explained. “I know that I have been given experiences and people and opportunities that have made my life exceptionally beautiful and sweet — and yet I struggle with my own thoughts and feelings at times. But this doesn’t make me faulty. This does not make me weak. This does not make me less than. This makes me human. We need help, and we need each other.”
The Good Place actress revealed how she planned to talk to her two children about mental health.
She told Women’s Health, “I’ll make sure our dialogue around the house is what it has been for a while, which is that vulnerability equals strength.”
She continued, “Whether it’s daddy who goes to AA or mommy who has mental health – she has to check in with it.”
In another interview with Off Camera, Bell credited her mom with teaching her that it is okay to struggle with your mental health. “[My mom’s] a nurse and she had the wherewithal to recognize that in herself … when I was 18 she said, ‘If you start to feel like you are twisting things around you, and you feel like there is no sunlight around you, and you are paralyzed with fear, this is what it is and here’s how you can help yourself.’ ”
Taraji P. Henson
The Oscar-nominated actress is a huge advocate for mental health, particularly as it pertains to the African-American community. The star even started the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named after her late father who struggled with his own mental health, to raise awareness about the issue.
Henson told Essence, “I’ve experienced mental illness in my family. I’ve certainly seen it in the community and even in the workplace. When it comes to African-American people, we don’t deal with it. We pray about it, we shun it, we just don’t talk about it. How are we going to help ourselves if we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable?”
Henson also spoke about women’s mental health in particular, “The mindset of the strong black woman [is], ‘I don’t need your help. I can do it myself. I can carry all ten bags and my baby.’ But that’s not the position. It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to be vulnerable … It’s okay not to be strong sometimes.”
The model got candid about her past battle with depression on Instagram. Culpo reflected on the hardships she faced in the last few months, in part by comparing two selfies that were taken then and now, to stress to her followers that “it’s ok to not be ok” and to embrace their imperfections.
“Looking at the difference between these two photos today, and thought it was important to share something with all of you. 2nd photo, a few months ago: I was depressed. I had no appetite, was drinking way too much, smoking, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t eat,” she admitted of the second photo, which showed a paler, thinner Culpo pouting for the camera.
“1st photo is from the other day, and I am looking healthier. I have my appetite back and am treating my body correctly,” she added of the other selfie that features Culpo with more color in her face and appearing healthier overall.
In a final note, Culpo encouraged her followers to keep moving forward, noting that embracing imperfections will help connect us all.
“Our imperfections/hardships make us all perfectly relatable, taking this journey through life together,” Culpo added. “I think the more we understand how connected that makes all of us, the easier and more rewarding this life journey can be. Love you guys!!!!!!! ❤️❤️❤️”
Noah Cyrus is getting candid about her battle with depression and how it’s shaped her new music. “This EP is mostly just about how my emotions have been, and about my anxiety, and about how I’ve been struggling with depression, and how it’s okay to feel those feelings,” the 18-year-old artist explained during an interview with L’Officiel USA.
“A lot of people like to judge you, and make fun of you on the Internet, and people make you feel crazy whenever you’re in a depression or having anxiety or having a panic attack,” Cyrus continued.
“It’s about that and being sad and having your emotions and not being able to ignore the feelings you’re having,” she also told the outlet in reference to her EP, which was released this month.
She shared that her deepest sadness began in her 30s. “The struggle was intense. I could analyze the source of my depression forever,” she explained. “Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards. And of course there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism. Put it all together and depression is a tenacious and scary condition.”
Her 40s were no less difficult. “Happiness was elusive. A reunion with old friends might make me happy,” she said. “A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair.”
But things have been looking up for the new mom. Now, Jackson says 17-month-old son Eissa Al Mana has been a source of true joy.
In an interview with Vogue U.K., the singer opened up about her battle with PTSD and anxiety following the bombing at a Manchester, U.K. concert venue while she was performing.
“I think a lot of people have anxiety, especially right now,” she said. “My anxiety has anxiety … I’ve always had anxiety. I’ve never really spoken about it because I thought everyone had it, but when I got home from tour it was the most severe I think it’s ever been.”
As part of the Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf campaign in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Big Bang Theory star got candid about her struggle with depression.
“I think what I would have liked to tell my younger self about my mental health is that there are answers,” she said in her video. “For me, some of those answers I had to wait years to find and I needed to get different help, which ended up being really the right kind of help.”
“But I had this notion when I was younger that if something didn’t work once, or if a therapist didn’t work, or if a medication didn’t work, that nothing would ever work,” she added. “I wish I could have told my younger self that something will work — it’s just going to take sometimes more research, sometimes more referrals, and really figuring things out like your life depends on it. Because for me, it did.”
The “Havana” singer opened up about her battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder in a candid interview with Cosmopolitan U.K. for their June cover story.
“OCD is weird. I laugh about it now,” says Cabello, 21. “Everybody has different ways of handling stress. And, for me, if I get really stressed about something, I’ll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don’t keep thinking about it.”
Her diagnosis and family’s support has helped her to feel more in control, she explains, “To the point where I’m just like, ‘Aha! OK, this is just my OCD.’ I’ll ask my mom a question for the fourth time and she’ll be like, ‘That’s OCD. You’ve got to let it go.'”
In the latest issue of PEOPLE, the I Feel Pretty actress reflected on her social anxiety and the postpartum anxiety she suffered from after the birth of her first child.
“I was barely holding it together,” she said. “I didn’t want anyone else touching [my daughter]. I felt like I was the only one that could help or soothe her. That was a hard time.”
Busy revealed that Courteney Cox then gave her life-changing advice while they were working on Cougar Town together. “Courteney was like, ‘I think you should talk to a doctor about medication,’” which the actress did. She took antidepressants for around a year and a half afterwards, which helped her move through that difficult time.
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE’s Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle, the singer opened up for the first time about her struggle with bipolar disorder.
“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she explained. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.”
“It was kind of something that hit me within the last year. Before that, growing up, I was a pretty calm kid, super steady,” Mendes told Beats 1’s Zane Lowe of his secret struggle with anxiety. “I knew people who had suffered from anxiety and found it kind of hard to understand, but then when it hits you, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, what is this? This is crazy.’ That song is complete truth and the best thing about it is, it’s not all down. The whole reason I wrote [‘In My Blood’] was to be like, at the end, ‘It’s not in my blood to do that.’”
While stopping by to meet with a group of aspiring models for Lifetime’s new series, Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid, Hadid opened up about her experience with anxiety.
“Believe me, I get it and I understand it,” she admitted when one of the contestants, Makenzie, revealed she struggles with social anxiety disorder. “I was totally there. My sister [Gigi Hadid] is very bubbly and very out there, and I was always very reserved. I would literally start crying and shaking if I had to do interviews at red carpet events. It was really nerve-racking and it’s scary, and it’s not only you.”
“It gets a lot better once you have to talk to people every day,” she added. “Then you’re like, ‘Okay, I guess it’s my job, I have to do it!’ ”
The “Jessie’s Girl” singer opened up about his lifelong battle with depression in a new interview on SiriusXM’s Feedback in January 2018, and shared that he struggled with thoughts of suicide.
“‘Suicide Manifesto’ is stuff I think about. I’ve been close to it,” he said about his forthcoming song from his new album, The Snake King. “When Robin Williams and Chester [Bennington and Chris Cornell] and those guys … I didn’t go, ‘Oh that’s terrible.’ I went, ‘I get it.’ I get being that lost and dark.”
He added: “You’re in so much pain that you just want it to end. I have been there and I know what it’s like and I understand. It’s just part of your makeup.”
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the Good Morning America chief meteorologist opened up about her crippling battle with depression and her suicide attempt at 21 years old. “Depression for me has been a couple of different things — but the first time I felt it, I felt helpless, hopeless and things I had never felt before,” she shared. “I lost myself and my will to live.”
Her life changed a few years ago when she met a therapist who “changed everything” — and has been working with him ever since. “I’m now focused on not just myself, but on keeping my family happy and healthy,” she revealed. “You have bigger things than [your own problems]. That has helped a lot — being a mother has helped incredibly.”
The Riverdale actress opened up about her battle with anxiety in an interview with W magazine, where she explained that she had to flee Los Angeles and move back in with her parents in North Carolina to get a handle on her mental health. “I felt like my world was crashing,” she said, adding that she was working at a restaurant on top of auditioning as much as possible before landing her current role in Riverdale. “I didn’t want to admit defeat, but I was like, ‘I need to come home. My mental health is suffering, and it is making me physically ill.’ ”
Back home, the actress returned to a therapist who she had previously seen and began taking medication for her anxiety. “She really helped me build myself back up again,” Reinhart said.
“I found out I have BPD, which is borderline personality disorder,” the Saturday Night Live alum explained on the WTF With Marc Maron podcast, adding that he’s experienced mental breakdowns that would leave him in a blind rage. “One of my psychiatrists [diagnosed me]. He was always saying before this big meltdown, ‘You’re probably bipolar or borderline, we’re just going to have to figure it out.’ ”
Though he now has a diagnosis, Davidson is still figuring out how to handle the disorder, and added that he’s “depressed all the time.” He now goes to regular therapy sessions and is on a new medication.
“It is working, slowly but surely,” Davidson said. “I’ve been having a lot of problems. This whole year has been a f—— nightmare. This has been the worst year of my life, getting diagnosed with this and trying to figure out how to learn with this and live with this.”
Immediately after overcoming addictions as a 17 year old, Franco turned to acting, which he revealed became like an addiction. “I really threw myself into it, and that became everything, to the point where I didn’t even socialize,” he explained to OUT magazine. “And then after, like, 10 years of that, at age 27, I realized, ‘Man, I’m so depressed. On the surface my life seems pretty good—I have a career and everything— but I feel isolated and lonely.’”
The “Ex’s and Oh’s” singer revealed on Instagram that she has been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. “… Today, while working through my PTSD with my doc, I felt that door inside of me open up just a little bit more,” King wrote. “It used to be covered in caution tape and red lights flashing DO NOT OPEN. But I felt a cool little breeze and it wasn’t as scary peeping through.”
She goes on to explain how she is making “healthy choices” and practicing self care, admitting, “In those times all I had to do was refocus and take back control of MY OWN MIND … Today, if presented with two options, I will CHOOSE the one that is most beneficial and happy for me right then and there,” King shared, promising that she is “definitely going to love” herself.
The Jane the Virgin star opened up about her long battle with anxiety in an Instagram post that featured a short video of the actress — barefaced and staring at the camera, as part of photographer Anton Soggiu’s Ten Second Portraits series. “I suffer from anxiety. And watching this clip I could see how anxious I was but I empathize with myself. I wanted to protect her and tell her it’s ok to be anxious, there is nothing different or strange about having anxiety and I will prevail,” Rodriguez wrote. “I like watching this video. It makes me uncomfortable but there is a freedom I feel maybe even an acceptance. This is me.”
After a years-long battle with depression and panic attacks, the actress and author of This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare decided to get some help in the form of a therapist and doctor, who prescribed her an antidepressant to better manage her mental health.
“I just accepted depression as something that’s part of my anatomy; it’s part of my chemistry, it’s part of my biology,” Sidibe told PEOPLE. “When it’s too big for me to just turn around on my own, I see a therapist. I see a therapist anyway. We all should see a therapist. If only for the hour a week that you can talk about yourself and not worry about monopolizing the conversation? F—ing do it, it’s worth it!”
The ABC News Anchor spoke candidly about her lifelong battle with anxiety for a new campaign with the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit that works with children struggling with mental health and learning disorders.
“My earliest memories as a little girl are infused and filled with worry and fear,” Vargas said in a PEOPLE exclusive video discussing her battle, citing her father’s deployment to Vietnam when she was 6 years old as the root of her panic attacks.
“I couldn’t control it and I couldn’t explain why I would sob and cry and plead and beg for my mom not to leave me every day,” she said. “This wasn’t a time when people were paying a lot of attention to the children of soldiers at war. No one asked me why I was panicking and I kept my panic a secret. I felt ashamed of it. I hid it as I grew older.”
In a Facebook post, Tedder opened up about his band OneRepublic’s four-month hiatus, attributing the break to anxiety. “I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, not sleeping, on meds, not happy, anxiety on a crippling level and it was triggered from sheer exhaustion,” wrote the OneRepublic frontman, detailing the band’s nearly nonstop schedule since they formed a decade ago.
“I called my manager and said ‘pull the plug’ … cancel tv’s cancel promo, cancel the single, cancel the album,” he added. “At the time we had a tour planned for the US in February, straight into Europe and then the rest of the world. We were gonna be gone again, for ages. The thought of it literally sent me into a sweat and made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack. Crippling anxiety. It also made me stop writing songs. I didn’t have the motivation or joy necessary to. That’s over now.”
The performer concluded the post by stating that he has been working on music. The band released “No Vacancy” on April 28.
“I can safely say that losing my mom at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had quite a serious effect on not only my personal life, but also my work as well,” the royal said, opening up to The Telegraph about losing his mom, Princess Diana. “My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum because why would that help?”
It took 17 years before Prince Harry seeked out help, eventually going to counseling, where he was able to finally open up. “I’ve now been able to take my work seriously, and take my private life seriously, as well, and be able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference,” he added. “Invictus would have never gotten off the ground if I hadn’t dealt with all that stuff beforehand.”
The former Jerry Maguire child star wrote a moving Instagram post with the hope of helping others who struggle. “As a kid/teen I was made fun of relentlessly by some people who are now even my friends on FB. I was told I was a has-been and would never book a job again,” he shared. “I was made to feel like garbage every day of middle school to the point where I had a panic attack every night before school, because I wondered how I would get through the day. It was humiliating.” He added, “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor and kids will hopefully see that they can be too.”
After releasing a self-help book called We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, the actress talked to The Guardian about her struggles with mental health and her road to recovery. Anderson’s anxiety stems back to her youth, when she began therapy at age 14 and was voted “Most Likely to Get Arrested” by her high school classmates — a superlative she quickly proved to be correct when she was caught breaking into her school on the night of graduation. Her new book details many occasions when her mental health problems took over, sometimes leaving her wanting to isolate herself from the outside world. “There were times when it was really bad,” she revealed. “There have been times in my life where I haven’t wanted to leave the house.”
Teigen got very personal in the April 2017 issue of Glamour, penning an essay in which she opened up about struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety after Luna’s birth. “Getting out of bed to get to set on time was painful. My lower back throbbed; my shoulders — even my wrists — hurt. I didn’t have an appetite. I would go two days without a bite of food, and you know how big of a deal food is for me.” She continued, “Most days were spent on the exact same spot on the couch and rarely would I muster up the energy to make it upstairs for bed. John would sleep on the couch with me, sometimes four nights in a row. I started keeping robes and comfy clothes in the pantry so I wouldn’t have to go upstairs when John went to work. There was a lot of spontaneous crying.” She credited John with being her rock, and said she opened up because she wants other moms to know they’re not alone. “Postpartum does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling. Sometimes I still do.”
Mental illness doesn’t only affect those who suffer from it. Lake’s ex-husband, jewelry designer Christian Evans, committed suicide at age 45 amid his battle with bipolar disorder, and now Lake is making it her mission to raise awareness about mental illness in hopes of helping others. “I never stopped loving that man,” she told PEOPLE. “If only he could have believed in himself the way I believed in him.”
“Anxiety was a huge hurdle for me to deal with this past year (and security concerns didn’t help),” the supermodel wrote on her app. “But I think I’m finally learning how to cope.” Jenner also went into detail describing a notable panic attack she experienced: “I once had a really bad attack on a plane and just had to ride it out,” she wrote. “I felt my heart beating a million miles an hour and I even went a little numb.”