We take a look at 10 celebrities who have opened up about their experiences of therapy in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week
Looking after your mental health is hugely important all year round, but Mental Health Awareness Week provides a much-needed opportunity to take a moment and reflect. Paying attention to the conversation and working to reduce the stigma can benefit everyone.
One in four people will experience a mental health problem every year in the UK, and yet we are still in the process of learning about how we can best support ourselves and others.
Scarlett Moffatt guest edits our Mental Health Digital Issue
In honour of HELLO!‘s Mental Health digital issue guest-edited by Scarlett Moffatt, we take a closer look at some of the public figures who have opened up about their experiences with therapy, including Prince Harry, Jay-Z and Zendaya.
Prince Harry is known for his openness around his experience with grief. The tragic death of his mother Princess Diana had a devastating impact on his personal life. Years later, prompted by wife Meghan Markle, he went to therapy. As part of his mental health-focused docuseries with Oprah Winfrey, The Me You Can’t See, Harry actually tried EMDR therapy on camera.
Reflecting on his emotional journey, he said: “One of the biggest lessons that I’ve ever learnt in life is you’ve sometimes got to go back and to deal with really uncomfortable situations and be able to process it in order to be able to heal.”
The Duchess of Sussex encouraged Prince Harry to seek help following her own positive experiences with therapy. After suffering the sadness of a miscarriage, she wrote a heartfelt letter for The New York Times in 2020, in which she championed speaking out when you’re struggling mentally.
“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” she wrote. “Some have bravely shared their stories; they have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same.”
The A-lister has used therapy to cope with the challenges of fame, telling PEOPLE in 2021 that “self-awareness is key”.
Jennifer has been vocal about how greatly it has impacted her life, explaining: “I’ve really gotten a lot out of therapy. Just being a public person, there’s a lot of amazing things that come with that. But there’s also a lot of tough stuff, because we’re only human, and we tend to walk around with bulls-eyes on our heads.”
The former The Saturdays singer has been open about her experiences of anxiety and depression and the tools that she has in place to help her manage her mental health.
“I still take medication, I still go to therapy as and when I need it,” Frankie told HuffPost UK in 2020. “They make me able to cope with life on a daily basis and to enjoy my life as much as possible. As long as I keep doing that, I’ll keep doing both things.” After receiving professional help, she has found that those “dark days” are “a lot more few and far between than they used to be”.
Demi Lovato has been refreshingly candid about their battles with depression, bulimia and substance abuse. Growing up in the public eye meant they often felt scrutinised and turned to unhealthy habits to cope. “Therapy helped me release my voice and find freedom,” they said in a 2020 video. “An inner freedom that I’ve been looking for from a very young age.”
The ex-Disney actor now uses their platform to reduce the stigma surrounding therapy and campaign for more accessible mental health support.
The Euphoria star is a huge advocate for professional mental health support and has been honest about how the pandemic affected her.
“Of course I go to therapy,” Zendaya told British Vogue in 2021. “If anybody is able to possess the financial means to go to therapy, I would recommend they do that. I think it’s a beautiful thing. There’s nothing wrong with working on yourself and dealing with those things with someone who can help you, someone who can talk to you, who’s not your mom or whatever, who has no bias.”
Global superstar Jay-Z is another celebrity who has benefitted from talking about his emotions. A tough childhood meant he adopted a hardened attitude in order to survive growing up in Brooklyn.
Speaking about how therapy changed his life, in 2017 he told The New York Times he “grew so much from the experience” and that “the strongest thing a man can do is cry”. He continued: “To expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world. That’s real strength. You know, you feel like you gotta be this guarded person. That’s not real. It’s fake.”
It’s A Sin star Olly Alexander has spoken about facing struggles with bulimia and self-harm during his schooldays.
“Anyone who isn’t straight can tell you, when you don’t fit into the social norm, it can be a really difficult and traumatic experience,” the Years & Years frontman told DAZED in 2016. “I’ve spent the last few years really working on my mental health, trying to get better support. I’ve received care from the NHS and privately,” he revealed.
When she appeared on The X Factor back in 2011, the pop star would constantly compare herself to her fellow Little Mix bandmates.
Publicly acknowledging the vitriolic abuse she would receive on social media, Jesy visited a body image therapist as part of her 2019 BBC documentary, Odd One Out. She still feels anxious from time to time, admitting on Fearne Cotton’s podcast, Happy Place, in 2021: “I’ll never sit and lie and be like ‘Oh, I’m so happy now, I don’t have any insecurities!’ as that’s an absolute lie. I still have my insecurities, I still have my struggles…”
Alex Scott MBE
Speaking at HELLO!‘s Kindness Summit in 2020, the former professional footballer shared how online trolling, sparked by a move into presenting, took its toll on her mental health.
Therapy helped Alex recognise that in reality “it’s a small percentage of people going out of their way to do that” and that “there are so many people rooting for me and backing me”. Looking back on the impact of receiving professional help, she said: “Out of such a negative situation, I’m still looking at the positives that it’s actually given me and my life.”
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