What We Can Learn From Celebrities and Mental Illness


In the modern age of 24/7 news cycles and social media, it is easy to get lost. We often misconstrue different issues as we are influenced by what we see online or in the news. This is especially relevant now after news broke that the ex-Disney actress and singer, Demi Lovato, relapsed. This tragic situation has brought to light a range of issues surrounding mental health and the stigmatization of celebrity addictions.

We often joke about child stars who grow up to become ‘crazy’ addicts. We blame it on them for getting into the Hollywood industry too young or letting money and fame get to their head. But do we ever stop to think that we contribute to this problem? We distance ourselves from the celebrities we admire because we see them as mere objects of our obsessions and dreams. When we stop seeing celebrities as human beings, we stop treating them like so.

Let’s take Britney Spears’ 2000s meltdown, for instance. Everybody poked fun at her, claiming that she was another rundown pop star who was bound to breakdown eventually. Several years later, we use her scene as a meme for our enjoyment.

It is hard for us to admit that celebrities deal with mental health issues too. After all, they have wealth and glory, so what is their reason for having meltdowns or addictions? We either belittle celebrities for having legitimate issues or feelings or glorify their breakdowns. Both extremes are unhealthy ways of discussing mental illness and abuse.

I have seen a variety of reactions to Demi Lovato’s relapse. Some have been shaming her for even using drugs in the first place. And, of course, there are the internet bullies who can’t help but make jokes at her expense. However, there has been an outpouring of support for Demi coming from both her fans and peers. There have been many tweet praising the strength she showed throughout her addiction, rehabilitation, and relapse.

Although I don’t know Demi personally, I feel for her. What she is going through is evidently difficult, but it’s not my place to either shame or praise her for what she is doing. However, it is my place to comment on how everyone around her is reacting to the situation.

If we do end up praising celebrities for their recovery or for being open about their struggles, we should do the same with the people in our lives. We cannot shame one person for having an addiction and/or struggling with mental health, but then praise a celebrity for going through a similar situation.

It is easy for us to put our favourite celebrities on a pedestal. It is equally as easy for us to demean them without a second thought. Demi Lovato is still a person and deserves some respect, as do your loved ones and/or peers.


Written by Rebecca Rosenberg