You probably know Kristen Bell from one of her many upbeat, bubbly characters in TV shows and movies.
And if you’re a parent, you may most recently remember her as the voice of Anna in “Frozen.”
But in a recent interview, Bell opened up about something she hadn’t really made much mention of before: depression and anxiety.
On an episode of “Off Camera with Sam Jones,” Bell was asked how she differed from the characters she plays. Her answer was both honest and unexpected. She, like millions of others across the U.S., struggles with depression and anxiety.
It’s thanks to some important advice from her mom that Bell learned there’s nothing to feel ashamed of when it comes to depression.
Bell’s mother, being a nurse, knew that there was some risk that her daughter would develop depression or an anxiety disorder, given that both she and Bell’s grandmother had experienced it.
And with her mother’s help, Bell found a prescription that helped ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Hearing her open up about this was powerful in that many people living with anxiety and depressive disorders myself included are made to feel weak and alone for seeking medical intervention. Thanks to Bell’s mom, she learned at an early age that those who shame others for seeking help simply don’t understand.
And as her mom told her, “The world wants to shame you for [seeking medical intervention].”
A survey from the National Mental Health Association once found that 54% of people “think of depression as a sign of personal or emotional weakness.” A more recent survey discovered 17% of people “see taking medications (for problems with emotions, nerves, or mental health) as a sign of weakness. In 2004, a study found that 15% of respondents “see therapy as a sign of character weakness.” And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 25% of adults with mental health symptoms feel that people are caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness.
That is what stigma looks like.
Toward the end of the interview, Bell opens up about the double standard the world seems to have in how mental health is treated in relation to physical health.
And it’s a point others have made time and again: You wouldn’t deny someone with diabetes access to insulin, so why would you deny someone with depression prescriptions that would greatly improve their own lives?
When it comes to talking about mental illness and mental health, Bell isn’t the only celebrity helping break down stigma.
In an interview last year with Upworthy, Sarah Silverman opened up about living with depression and anxiety. Lena Dunham has been outspoken about living with obsessive compulsive disorder, Demi Lovato isn’t ashamed to talk about what it’s like living with bipolar disorder, and Jon Hamm has discussed how his depression affects his personal life and career.
Each of these celebrities help chip away at the stigma surrounding mental health. They help bust stereotypes, and they give hope to those facing the same struggles. Their voices are important, Kristen Bell’s voice is important, and your voice is important, too.