Icons Talking About Mental Health Make a Positive Impact
Bands, celebrities, and other icons make a difference by talking about mental health and mental illness. While some may think it's a publicity stunt, having larger-than-life people use their platforms in this way can have a positive impact on their fans and help fight against stigma.
Setting the Stage: What Talking About Mental Health Looks Like
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to see my favorite band. The band, Disturbed, has been on my playlist since I was 12 and listening to their music on my CD Walkman. Their songs and music have done a lot to positively shape and encourage me to fight for my life. I have lyrics tattooed on me. This is the impact they've had on me as an individual.
On the night of the show, I got to witness the impact the band has on thousands of others, too. One of their songs off the new album speaks directly to addiction and mental illness, and before playing, lead singer, David Draiman, took a moment to address all of us and talk about mental health. He spoke about addiction and depression, emphasizing the importance of checking in on your loved ones, and how people can get help for mental illness. The numbers for helplines were on the big screen as he spoke. Then he asked us to be vulnerable and raise our hands if we or someone we know struggles with these issues. The result was thousands of hands raising in unison.
How Talking About Mental Health Makes a Positive Impact and Fights Stigma
This might seem like a simple gesture but the act is huge. There are two key ways I see this combatting stigma and positively influencing fans.
- By saying it's okay, it's made okay. When icons openly address mental health issues such as addiction and depression, they actively create a safe space for their fans to talk about it, too. Even if someone isn't ready to speak just yet, I'm confident a seed is planted by these profound moments happening in a cacophony of stigma. Hopefully, they at least begin to give themselves permission to feel what they're feeling ("Stop Being Ashamed of Who You Are to Build Self-Esteem").
- By sharing resources, it makes using them okay. Stigma can tell us helpline are for weak individuals and if you power through your pain, that's when you're really getting better. Because of this negative image, people don't reach out. Many don't dare start to do so. By taking the time to say that it's okay to call the numbers, icons help chip away at the stigma that surrounds them ("What Happens When Calling a Mental Health Hotline?").
Disturbed, of course, isn't the only band to talk about mental health. At an Imagine Dragons concert I saw a couple of years ago, Dan Reynolds spoke about how therapy has changed his life. Many other icons have done similar acts to share about the importance of acknowledging and treating mental illness. Via these platforms, they can initiate movements that positively impact their fans and play an important part in combatting stigma.
Barton, L. (2019, March 11). Icons Talking About Mental Health Make a Positive Impact, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2019/3/icons-talking-about-mental-health-make-a-positive-impact
Author: Laura A. Barton
I am so happy to see those with influence and voice really stepping up and using their platforms for good. This may seem like a small thing to people who don't identify with, or having a direct connection to the issues being discussed but for those who do, it's huge. I hope we continue to see more in the way of this kind of behavior.
Me too, Lizanne!