It can be difficult dealing with anxiety, depression, or a multitude of other mental illnesses let alone talking about it, but that’s just what Kristen Bell, and Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls did this past week. Kristen Bell opened up on Off Camera with Sam Jones about her history of codependency, anxiety, depression, and the importance of not feeling any shame about it. Additionally, the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, Johnny Rzeznik, while talking about his new album spoke about being in “Chaos” and his journey into getting sober.

Kristen Bell and Johnny Rzeznik opening up about their own experiences and struggles it promotes awareness and open dialogue about mental health. According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, one in five Americans, 43.8 million people a year, deal with mental illness. With so many people affected by mental illness why do so many suffer in silence? Unfortunately within many societies discrimination and stigmas still exist. Both social stigma, which entails discriminating behavior towards individuals with mental health issues, and self-stigma which is the internalizing by the mental health sufferer of their perceptions of discrimination, can lead to feelings of shame.

Increased awareness is a large part in counteracting stereotypes and overcoming stigmas, May is Mental Health Month where there is an increased focus on educating the public, advocating for equal care, providing support, and overcoming stigmas. With one in five Americans being affected by a mental health condition, if it is not something you are personally dealing with, it may be a friend or a loved one who is struggling.

In addition to Bell and Rzeznik a multitude of other celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Olivia Munn, and Jim Carrey have shared their stories which help to reduce stigmas and encourage others with mental health issues to seek support when needed. First Lady Michelle Obama has also been a huge advocate for improving Mental Health stating, “Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness. It shouldn’t be treated differently.”

Having a mental health condition is nothing to be ashamed of, and the more we talk about it the more we normalize it and diminish the stigma surrounding it. Too many individuals refrain from seeking help due to their own negative perceptions or due to the negative perceptions of others.

If you are dealing with a mental illness it is important to remember that it is not your fault. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

If someone you care about is dealing with a mental illness you can be an important influence to help them get treatment and services they need by:

  • Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
  • Listen without judging and allow the individual to be truly heard.
  • Helping them access mental health resources
  • Treating them with respect
  • Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”

Every year people can and do overcome the challenges of mental illness in order to do the things they enjoy. By establishing and following a treatment plan, symptoms can be greatly reduced. If you or someone you care about needs help do not be afraid to reach out.

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Author: Stephanie Booth, MS a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at Total Life Counseling Center in Orlando. Total Life Counseling Center specializes in depression & anxiety and our experts can be reached at (407) 248-0030.