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13 Celebrities Speaking Out About Mental Health

The growth of digital media has allowed for discussions regarding mental health issues - particularly within the Black community - to be pushed to the forefront. What was once easy to hide and ignore, is now being talked about on blogs, videos, and social media.


More and more, we’re seeing Black celebrities use their platform and influence to help bring awareness to the nuanced challenges facing Black mental health.


Here are 13 Black celebrities sharing their mental health experiences:


Audra McDonald - Singer, Actress, Dancer

*TW: Suicide

Depression and Suicide




Image courtesy of Instagram


Audra McDonald is a Broadway legend with the claim to fame of being the only actress/singer to have won Tony’s in all four performing categories. In an interview with WNYC, she discusses how she suffered from depression, which eventually led to a suicide attempt while attending Julliard.


“I slit my wrist and then realized what I had done and called the Student Affairs Director who I had become close with and said, ‘Help me.’”


Fantasia - Singer, Actress

Depression


Image Courtesy of Instagram


The singer/songwriter captivated us with her sultry voice as she battled 7 other contestants on the hit show, American Idol. She eventually went on to win that season, becoming one of the youngest people to win. She went on to create platinum-selling albums and garnered critical acclaim on Broadway for her role in The Color Purple. However, after a relationship ended, Fantasia attempted suicide. She shares her story in an interview with Billboard.


“I was a broken woman."


Gabrielle Union - Actress

*TW: Rape

Depression and PTSD



Image Courtesy of Instagram


The Being Mary Jane star courageously speaks out about being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being raped in a Youtube video for the Child Mind Institute. She speaks out about her traumatic experience in hopes that it will help others to know that they can get through their own traumatic experiences and keep thriving.


"I was diagnosed with PTSD at 19 after I was raped at gunpoint and I didn't let it stop me. "


Jazmine Sullivan - Singer

Depression



Image Courtesy of Instagram


Jazmine Sullivan first stepped onto the scene in 2008 with her debut album Fearless and has been giving us hits ever since. In 2011 the Grammy-nominated singer from Philly took a 4-year hiatus from music to heal from a physically and mentally abusive relationship.


“I left music because I was in a really bad relationship. It had gotten abusive. Just having to deal with the industry and that my personal life was so bad, I had to go.”


Karamo Brown - Television Host

*TW Suicide

Depression



Image Courtesy of Instagram


You may know Karamo Brown as the culture expert on Netflix's revival of Queer Eye. He's passionate about mental health because he understands first hand what it feels like to suffer from depression. In his interview with People, he gets open and honest about how he attempted to die by suicide back in 2006.


"I did attempt suicide..I was in a very dark place."


Keke Palmer - Actress and Singer

Anxiety and Depression




Image Courtesy of Instagram


The internet’s self-proclaimed youngest auntie has delighted us with her acting and singing abilities since the early age of 11, starring in hit movies such as Barbershop and Akeelah and the Bee. Her witty one-liners make us laugh, her most famous being - “the gag is”, but the real-life gag is that she suffers from anxiety and depression. In her interview with Essence, she speaks about her mental health.


"We all have our trials and errors with different things in our lives. Everything is not the end of the world. I realized as I got older, I would love to have told myself that.”


Keri Hilson - Singer

Depression



Image Courtesy of Instagram


Keri Hilson was at the top of her career when she decided to take a hiatus from doing what she loved - singing and songwriting. Personal and professional issues weighed heavily on her and began to take a toll on her mental health. Eventually, Hilson realized that she couldn’t just ‘pray it away,’ and sought the help of a therapist.


“Life was about survival for me and trying to find one smile a day - if I could.”


Kerry Washington - Actress

Anxiety and Eating Disorder



Image Courtesy of Instagram


Kerry Washington is my bestie in my head. She’s been in blockbusters such as Ray and Django Unchained, but it was her role as Olivia Pope on the hit show Scandal that had us all saying, “It’s handled”. In an interview with Essence, she tells us how she started therapy to help her with an eating disorder. She regularly continues therapy sessions to deal with the pressures of her job and life.


“I used food as a way to cope.”


Lisa Nicole Carson - Actress

Bipolar Disorder



Image Courtesy of Instagram


Even if you don't immediately recognize her name, chances are, if you grew up in the 90's you'll remember her face from roles in Jason’s Lyric and Fox’s Ally McBeal. At the height of her career, she stepped away from the limelight to take time out to deal with depression and bipolar disorder. In an interview with Essence, she shares with us how she found out about her bipolar disorder diagnosis.


"I ended up being hospitalized for a few weeks, and a psychiatrist gave a diagnosis: bipolar disorder. I was stunned and clueless, and so was my family. I didn’t want to believe I had any mental health issues and went into denial."


Lizzo - Singer, Actress

Depression



Image Courtesy of Instagram


I think it's safe to say that Lizzo's positive, bold, and larger than life personality is infectious. Her chart-topping songs make you feel good about yourself and have you screaming at the top of your lungs - “You could’ve had a bad bitch…”

However, everything isn’t always sunshine and rainbows for the singer. In an open and honest interview with the Breakfast Club, Lizzo talks about having everything and still feeling sad.


She also shares with us her feelings of depression in an Instagram post saying, "I'm depressed and there's no one I can talk to because there's nothing anyone can do about it. Life hurts."


Taraji P Henson - Actress

Depression and Anxiety



Image Courtesy of Instagram


Taraji P Henson has played many roles in her career as an actress. However, it’s her role as a mental health advocate that may prove to be her biggest challenge.

Living with anxiety and depression herself, she is making it her mission to advocate for more mental health awareness and resources within the Black community. She has even taken her fight to Capitol Hill to speak at a Congressional hearing regarding this issue.


“We’ve been taught to pray our demons away.”


“If you’re not culturally competent, how can I trust you with my deepest secrets and with my vulnerability?”


Michelle Williams - Singer

Depression



Image Courtesy of Instagram


The singer/songwriter has been very vocal about her mental health issues. While rehearsing for her Coachella performance with Beyonce and planning for a wedding, Michelle recognized symptoms of depression creeping up and decided to seek help before it worsened. In an exclusive interview with People Magazine, Michelle shares about her battles with depression:


“I thought I was over depression. I thought, ‘I’m good! I’ve got love, I’m working out.’ But I was so angry. The rage built up in me.”


Willow Smith - Actress, Singer

*TW: Self-harm

Depression



Image Courtesy of Instagram


Willow Smith, the daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, is only 18 years old but has amassed quite the resume. From singing chart-topping songs like "I Whip My Hair Back and Forth" to acting in movies with her dad like I Am Legend, she proves herself to be a multi-talented superstar. So it came as a shock to her family as well as many others when she admitted to cutting herself during an episode of "Red Table Talk"


"After all of that kinda settled down and it was like a kind of lull, I was just listening to a lot of dark music. It was just so crazy and I was plunged into this black hole, and I was cutting myself."


So Where Do We Go From Here?


We often assume that it's easier to put on a happy face and pretend that everything is okay. Some of our faves do it every day, and we don't realize that they’re struggling with mental health issues. Sometimes we think it’s easier to hide from ourselves instead of digging into the pain in order to heal.


Your voice matters. We’re grateful to these celebs for being so open about their mental health - let’s keep it going.


The more we speak up about mental health and the need for mental health advocacy within the Black community, the more we’re able to crush the stigma that comes along with it.

Have a conversation about your mental health. Check on your folks. Don't be afraid to seek help - we’re all struggling with something.

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©2020 by Darkness RISING: A Mental Health Awareness Project