Mental illness doesn’t have visible symptoms like a runny nose or fever, so you may not know when someone is suffering. But it’s out there. One in four adults have a mental disorder in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which is co-hosting a summit Saturday at the University of Miami Hospital Conference Center.
Stars are not immune. Even Kim Kardashian is getting involved in the cause. The reality star — whose brother Rob reportedly “is in a funk,” his family has said — executive-produced a documentary #RedFlag, focusing on how social media to help young adults voice their pain, loneliness and confusion, premiering on HLN 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Thank you, Kim? Why, yes. When celebrities come out with their personal problems, it helps the cause, says NAMI Miami director/UM’s Department of Psychiatry Advisory Board Co-Chair Susan Racher. “Stigma comes from ignorance and fear of the unknown and unfamiliar,” she says. “Famous people — through their art or their own lived experiences — have humanized the face of mental illness and thus have made the unknown familiar.”
We took a look at a handful of bold-faced names who have publicly battled their demons and come out on the brighter side.
Brian Wilson: The Beach Boys icon had a series of nervous breakdowns in the ’60s and stopped touring. After a long recovery from schizoaffective disorder — involving hallucinations and paranoia — he began recording again; No Pier Pressure is his 11th solo album. Learn about Wilson’s psychological struggles by watching the 2014 biographical indie Love and Mercy.
Michelle Williams: The Destiny’s Child singer told The Associated Press in 2013 that a “dark cloud” was lifting after many years, thanks to therapy, exercise and positive thinking.
Jim Carrey: While he can make others laugh with his zany antics and contortions, the actor who shot to fame with such ’90s hits as The Mask and Ace Ventura has sought help for depression. These days, he credits spirituality with keeping him level-headed, and he spurns drugs and alcohol.
Catherine Zeta-Jones: The actress, who entered treatment in for bipolar disorder in 2011, has said she believes her condition — characterized by extreme mood swings — was brought on by the stress of husband Michael Douglas’ cancer diagnosis.
Demi Lovato: The singer’s issues started early — an eating disorder, then cutting as a coping mechanism. In 2011, she was diagnosed as bipolar. Medication helps. “That’s what works for me,” she told Cosmopolitan for Latinas last year. That, and “checking in with people, being honest and being grateful.”
Brooke Shields: In her 2006 memoir, Down Came the Rain, the child model turned actress writes of the crippling postpartum depression that overtook her after she had her second daughter in 2003. Thirteen percent of women who give birth experience PPD, caused by hormonal shifts.
Carrie Fisher: The Star Wars legend entered treatment for her bipolar disorder after acting bizarrely during a cruise ship performance in February 2013. The Wishful Drinking author, open about her past drug and alcohol abuse, told People that though she was on anti-psychotic drug Seroquel, a lack of sleep caused “a perfect storm.”
Howie Mandel: The comedian’s struggle is real with mysophobia, a pathological fear of germs — hence the shaved head. Mandel also has been vocal about his obsessive compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity and depression. Diagnosed as an adult, the America’s Got Talent star wrote a book in 2009, Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me, dedicated to his patient wife.
Darrell Hammond: The Saturday Night Live castmate turned announcer wrote of his struggles with drugs and alcohol as well as self-mutilation in God If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*&$ed. The comic, who was once taken from the SNL set to a psych ward in a straitjacket, has said he was often made to feel ashamed of his depression.
JK Rowling: The author recounts in the 2007 documentary A Year in the Life that she first had suicidal thoughts in the early ’90s while living in Portugal as a new mom and seeing her marriage to journalist Jorge Arantes fall apart. Rowling was prescribed cognitive behavioral therapy for clinical depression and managed to finish the first book in the smash series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
MADELEINE MARR & ANA LENSE LARRAURI
Registration for Saturday’s summit is closed; it will be taped and posted at http://namiofmiami.org