Mental health experts praise celebrities for opening up

By expressing their personal troubles, celebrities are impacting and inspiring more honest discussion about mental health and removing the stigma from these issues.

More and more celebrities are opening up about their struggles with mental illness.

On August 4, Sinead O'Connor made headlines after sharing a hysterical video on Facebook of an emotional breakdown during which she contemplated suicide and opened up about her mental illness.

And she wasn't the first to do so. 

Just last week Justin Bieber cancelled the rest of his world tour so he can heal his 'mind, heart and soul.'

In June, Jay-Z surprised fans by mentioning his therapist in one of the 10 tracks featured on his most recent album 4:44. 

Smile, the third song on the album, breaches pressing issues including sexual identity and the difficulty of being a black man in America. And among those statements, he raps: 'My therapist said I relapsed.'

And earlier this year Selena Gomez cancelled her world tour to take care of her mental health. She told In Style in an interview that cancelling it to check into a Tennessee-based treatment center was the best decision she's ever made.

Though some people have criticized these celebrities for being over the top or exaggerating their conditions, mental health experts have praised their honesty. 

By expressing their personal troubles, celebrities are impacting and inspiring more honest discussion about mental health and removing the stigma from these issues.  

Earlier this year Selena Gomez cancelled her world tour to take care of her mental health. She told In Style in an interview that cancelling it to check into a Tennessee-based treatment center was the best decision she's ever made

Earlier this year Selena Gomez cancelled her world tour to take care of her mental health. She told In Style in an interview that cancelling it to check into a Tennessee-based treatment center was the best decision she's ever made

Jay Z, Justin Bieber and Sinead O'Connor have been praised by mental health experts for recently opening up about their struggles with mental health. In June, Jay-Z mentioned his therapist in one of the 10 tracks featured on his most recent album 4:44
Just last week Justin Bieber made news for cancelling the rest of his world tour so he can heal his 'mind, heart and soul'

Jay-Z, Justin Bieber and Sinead O'Connor have been praised by mental health experts for recently opening up about their struggles with mental health 

Dr Parul Jain, from the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, told Daily Mail Online that when these celebrities speak about their battle with mental illness it destigmatizes the subject. 

'Mental health is stigmatized and people feel discouraged to talk about it and about the difficulties they are facing,' Dr Jain said. 

That impact seems to be particularly true in teenagers, who are already more influenced by these media figures. 

Data from the National Institute of Mental Health indicate 12.5 percent of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 had at least one depressive episode in 2015. 

SUICIDE RATE FOR TEENAGE GIRLS HIT 40-YEAR PEAK IN 2015 AND MORE THAN DOUBLED SINCE 2007

Suicide rates among teenage girls reached a 40-year high in 2015, new data reveal.

The research from the National Center for Health Statistics showed 524 girls aged between 15 and 19 years old took their own life two years ago. 

That is the highest figure ever since records began in 1975, when 305 girls committed suicide. 

But it has not been a steady increase; the report reveals a recent spike, with rates doubling between 2007 and 2015. 

The figures, released on Thursday, come amid controversy over the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, which some experts believe could be driving interest in suicide among girls and young women. 

The report showed suicide rates among boys the same age have dropped far below the peak between the 80s and 90s. 

However, suicide remains four times more common among teenage boys than teenage girls, with 1,537 suicides among males aged between 15 and 19 in 2015.

Meanwhile, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides are more common among teenage girls, who tend to use pills, while boys tend to use guns.  

It is not clear what is driving the current increase in rates among girls - perhaps the current drug abuse and overdose epidemic, or internet bullying. 

The report did not specify the clinical background of those who committed suicide - whether they were in therapy, on medication, or went to hospital. 

Experts warn the figures, though lacking in detail, highlight the need to take delicate measures to treat mental illness in teenage girls.   

The institute also found 25 percent of teens between 13 and 18 had a lifetime prevalence of anxiety or an anxiety-related disorder. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens aged 15 to 19. 

Dr Jain said when celebrities open up about their experience with things like depression and anxiety, people are more likely to seek help. 

She said she came to this conclusion in 2015 after Bollywood Star Deepika Pukadone spoke openly about her battle with depression in an interview on a popular television channel. 

During the interview she spoke candidly about her symptoms, her coping mechanisms and her medical treatment.  

Dr Jain and her colleagues found in their research that this open communication influenced fans to see mental illness as something that was more common and to seek help if they are experiencing anything similar.  

'I found that there was a strong correlation between people who knew and were fans of this actress and their desire to seek help for things like depression,' she said. 

'Even though people don't actually know these celebrities, they feel like a friend or like a friendly face, and help people feel empowered to get help.' 

Dr Jain also praised these celebrities coming forward because it serves similarly to a campaign for mental health. 

'You don't see as many campaigns for mental health as you do for things like smoking or binge drinking,' she explained. 

'But celebrities sharing their struggles tells people they aren't alone and though they may be functioning it's still good to speak out and to seek help.'  

She said this same effects have been seen when other celebrities come forward about other illnesses like cancer or HIV.

'When Magic Johnson came forward as HIV-positive, and Angelina Jolie gave the interview where she talked about genetic testing, there was a visible movement of people who then sought treatment or testing,' Dr Jain explained.

Speaking about Sinead O'Connor, Dr Jain said she isn't sure if the video went too far or not.

In the video, which was posted to Facebook August 4, O'Connor sobbed through the words: 'I'm fighting, fighting, fighting, like all the millions and millions that I know I'm one of - to stay alive every day.'

Dr Parul Jain said this same effects have been seen when other celebrities come forward about other illnesses like cancer or HIV. She gave the example of Magic Johnson, who said in a news conference in 1991 that he was HIV-positive
Dr Jain also brought up Angelina Jolie who got genetic testing to look for the BRCA gene

Celebrities fighting for personal causes: Dr Parul Jain said celebrities speaking out about  their diseases or treatment other than mental health have had a similar effect. She specifically mentioned Magic Johnson (left), who revealed in a news conference that he was HIV-positive, and Angelina Jolie who spoke about genetic testing for the BRCA gene

Speaking about Sinead O'Connor, Dr Jain said she isn't sure if the video went too far or not. In the video, which was posted to Facebook August 4, O'Connor sobbed through the words: 'I'm fighting, fighting, fighting, like all the millions and millions that I know I'm one of - to stay alive every day'

Speaking about Sinead O'Connor, Dr Jain said she isn't sure if the video went too far or not. In the video, which was posted to Facebook August 4, O'Connor sobbed through the words: 'I'm fighting, fighting, fighting, like all the millions and millions that I know I'm one of - to stay alive every day'

Barely able to speak at times, she left countless fans who viewed the 12-minute clip in no doubt about the reasons behind her public outpouring. 

She spoke about her suicidal thoughts and belief that she had been forsaken by those who should love her, saying she felt she was reduced to being 'invisible.' 

Dr Jain said the video could have served in two different ways: to trigger people with a similar mental illness, or as a wake-up call to people who are avoiding treatment.  

'Seeing something so extreme and emotional could cause people to go back into their shell,' she said. 

But, she said it could also serve as a 'teachable moment' for society, pushing people who might think they can function without seeking help to realize that there is a breaking point.

'It could show people that this is something real and can happen to people who seem to be otherwise functioning,' she explained.