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Celebrities and Mental Health Awareness: Break the Stigma

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Mental health impacts all aspects of our lives. From how you treat and interact with others to work productivity and physical health, good mental health is essential to living a healthy and happy life. However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in five adults in the United States is living with some type of mental health disorder. 

A mental health disorder or mental illness is defined as a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior. If you’ve experienced having a mental health disorder yourself or know someone who has, you know how much one’s mood, thinking, and subsequent behaviors can be impacted. Living with a mental health disorder can be excruciating and painful. 

There is help and there is hope. For most, in the midst of a mental health disorder, a better life beyond the suffering can seem impossible, but it’s important to know that mental health disorders are very treatable and many go on to rediscover a happy, peaceful life once again. 

If you or someone you care about is living with a mental health illness, Futures Recovery Healthcare is here for you. With our own dedicated Mental Health Program, Futures is committed to helping all those who come to us for help for a mental health disorder find the help they need. 

Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health Disorders

One of the most difficult aspects of having a mental health disorder is the often untrue stigmas that are associated. These stigmas not only keep many from seeking the help that they really need, they also add shame to the sufferer. This, in turn, can make the mental health issue worse. 

For someone who doesn’t have or has never had a mental health disorder, it can be difficult for them to empathize with someone who does. They seem to just not ‘get it’ when it comes to a mental health issue. This keeps people sick and also can lead to the loss of life when the person suffering doesn’t seek help and the pain becomes seemingly impossible to take. 

It’s vital that the stigmas associated with mental health disorders are broken. And this is beginning to happen—little by little. One of the ways this stigma is being broken is with celebrities speaking out about not only their mental health disorders but those of their loved ones. 

Dak Prescott is one of the latest to speak out. Prescott is the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. In September, Prescott spoke out about his own struggles with mental health specifically anxiety and depression. 

Following his brother Jace’s suicide, his mother’s death, and COVID,  Prescott talked about how his mental health began to suffer from depression and anxiety. In an interview on the show “In Depth With Graham Bensinger”, he opened up about how in the days before his brother’s death he was anxious and depressed. However, what made the difference for Prescott is that he sought and received the help he needed. This isn’t what happens for so many.

Prescott said the following on the Dallas Cowboys website when talking about his brother’s death, his mother’s death, and COVID, 

“It creates new emotions — emotions that I’ve never felt before but obviously dealt with,” “And I obviously got the help that I needed and was very open about it. I think that’s why I was fortunate enough to get over it, as not all of us are.”

And he’s right, not all are as fortunate as he was to get the help needed. The NIMH reports that each year about 48,000 people in the U.S. die from suicide. These numbers are staggering and represent just a fraction of the people living day to day with a mental health disorder. 

And Prescott isn’t the only celebrity speaking out and working to break the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Michael Phelps, an Olympic Gold Medal Winner, has also been vocal about his own struggles with mental health issues. Phelps who has won 23 gold medals, spoke about the new documentary The Weight of Gold in which athletes talk about their own mental health struggles despite enormous success and achievements. 

Phelps said, “It was wild to see that I wasn’t alone,” he continued. “But it also made me feel good because there were other people that could help understand ‘It’s okay to not be okay’.

And it really is okay to not be okay. 

And Futures can help. Futures’ Mental Health Program offers compassionate, evidence-based residential treatment to help individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar, and mood conditions. 

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

This statement is not only true it’s essential to accept not only for yourself but in regards to others. Thinking you can’t be ‘not okay’, being afraid to ask for help, and just not being able to cope all can bring shame to those living with mental health disorders of all kinds. 

Shame is often associated with mental health disorders including substance use disorder (SUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD). It’s vital to break the stigma and end the shame associated with mental health disorders. Simply put, everyone feels ‘not okay’ sometimes whether they admit it or not. 

Shame keeps people sick and even kills. It can be so deep that many choose to take their own lives rather than seek help. And what’s more, treatment for mental health disorders works, and just like Prescott, it’s what is needed to get them through very dark times so they can go on to be happy once again. 

Kevin Love, who plays in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers, was one of the first professional athletes to speak out in regards to his own mental health issues. In 2018 during an interview, Love talked about having a panic attack during a game. 

Following that, Love decided it was time to change his views both personally and publicly on mental health in order to break the associated stigmas that contribute to keeping so many suffering or lead them to take their own lives. 

Love, who suffers from anxiety and depression, started a foundation, the Kevin Love Fund whose mission is to inspire individuals to live their healthiest lives by providing tools to achieve physical and emotional well-being. 

Prescott, Phelps, and Love all say that being able to talk about what they were going through, connect with others going through similar things, and getting professional help are key ingredients in not only getting through some of the darkest times but also in maintaining good mental health. 

And while having a trusted friend to confide in is good, many times professional help is needed to truly begin to find relief from many mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. There are those too who have more than one mental health disorder. This is called having co-occurring disorders. For example, someone may have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) as well as an anxiety disorder. 

Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are 7.7 million American adults with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. And of these millions, more than 50% will never receive treatment for either disorder. For professional athletes as well as high-level executives, it can be very difficult to seek help for any type of mental health disorder, including alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder.

Many times these high-profile, high-achieving individuals are used to functioning at very high levels and have achieved enormous success. Often this makes it difficult for others to see the issue and it makes it equally challenging for them to ask for help. 

Once someone like this does ask for help the choices for treatment can seem very limited. For these individuals, a typical substance abuse treatment or mental health program may not fit the bill. At Futures, we understand that this type of individual has different needs than many others seeking help. Our concierge residential program, Orenda, is specifically designed for these high-profile individuals. 

In addition, for those individuals seeking substance use disorder treatment with a more active approach, Futures’ Rise program is an adventure-based, experiential therapy program that keeps participants engaged in outdoor adventures and specialized programming. 

Futures also proudly offers our comprehensive Mental Health Program for the treatment of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and depression. 

It’s time to break the stigmas associated with mental health disorders including substance use disorders. As more and more pro athletes and celebrities share their own struggles it’s time for us all to find our strength to ask for help. If you or someone you love is dealing with mental health or substance use disorders Futures’ compassionate team is here for you. Contact us online or call 866-804-2098.

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