"When I am unable to regulate my anxiety, it can result in somatization, which is pain in the body caused by an inability to express my emotional pain in words."~Lady Gaga, Born This Way Foundation.
Mental health is a taboo topic. But it’s not clear why. Over 20% of the country struggles with mental health in some way right now – right at this very moment – and countless more have experienced these issues at some point in their past.
Yet we remain silent, hiding it from others and feeling ashamed about the experience. Living with it alone.
The Heads Together Campaign and the Born This Way Foundation
Anxiety is worse when you hide it. All mental health is worse when you hide it. That’s not simply something people say – the symptoms genuinely feel more severe when you "live inside your head" and are unable to express the emotions that your mind wants to get out.
More and more "big name" celebrities have been leading the charge to improve the conversation about mental health, and be more open about their own anxiety and depression symptoms, including:
- Emma Stone
- Ellie Goulding and More
But two of the world’s biggest "celebrities" are making it their life’s work to help encourage people to be more open about their mental health issues, and get people to stop the stigma associated with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.
Prince William his wife, Kate Middleton, started the Heads Together Campaign, and one of their primary goals is promoting mental health awareness. Right now they are promoting #OKtoSay, the ability for people to be open about their mental illness, and confident enough to seek help without shame.
Lady Gaga’s openness with her own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been in the news often lately. Lady Gaga, who’s real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, has struggled with anxiety and mental health issues all her life.
At one point, her life on the road and her past experiences lead to the development of PTSD, something she lived with in silence for years before she opened up about it at an LGBT group in New York City.
Celebrities have been trying to change the conversation about mental illness for decades. But we live in a new world now – a world where people are becoming more open to sharing their feelings on social media, and where something as simple as a hashtag can cause thousands of people all over the world to be more open about their anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
So while the cynical reaction to Lady Gaga and Prince William partnering to change the conversation about mental illness is to shrug and pass it off, every big name contribution matters. We are in an age where a single bit of news can spread to millions of people in seconds, and so, with their help, maybe we can start to change the conversation for mental illness – at least a little bit.
How to Get Involved
There are many ways that you can contribute to changing the conversation about anxiety, even without a financial contribution. Consider the following ideas:
- Gather Your Close Friends – Invite your closest friends or family over to a safe space and have a real conversation with them about your anxiety. Let them know what you’ve been struggling with, how long, and what you’re doing about it. Let them know you’ll be there for them if they want to talk, and that they don’t have to talk to you now. They can contact you at any time.
- Use the Hashtag – Yes, it is just a hashtag. But your willingness to be involved in the conversation that Lady Gaga and them started shows that you’re involved, and it helps encourage others to do the same.
- Be a Social Media Warrior – When it comes to changing a conversation about mental illness, posting and sharing inspirational or honest material on social media can actually make a difference. On post about your own struggle son anxiety or depression, even if it something as simple as sharing an image from our Facebook page, lets others feel that much more "normalized," and that’s what we’re all trying to do – normalize mental illness, so that people feel comfortable seeking help.
Our aversion to being open and honest about our anxieties contributes to further anxiety. It causes us to doubt ourselves, feel anxious about people finding out, feel less supported, and so much more. It causes us to retreat, when being around others is one of the secrets to overcoming anxiety and its challenges.
It’s time we did become more open about anxiety. Mental health issues are normal. It’s how much we hide them that is not.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.