When you think of Kristen Bell, what comes to mind? A bubbly, smiling young woman with various successful movies and TV shows on her resume is the typical image. But, like 18 percent of the US adult population, she struggles with #anxiety. In a recent interview, Kristen Bell–”Ana” from Frozen–admitted that she has taken medication to cope with her anxiety since she was young.
What message does this send to young people?
Whether it was in Frozen, Veronica Mars, or Heroes, you and your child have probably been exposed to Kristen Bell. For an actress of this caliber to speak out about her challenge with a mental illness is extremely important for the social view on mental illness in teens.
Mental illness in teens has a prevalence of about 22 percent, and that’s just those considered to have a “severe” disorder. Young people look up to celebrities, which gives the celebrities a special amount of influence over how youth perceive certain issues. Kristen Bell fearlessly opening up about her struggle with anxiety sends a strong message of acceptance to other people grappling with a mental illness.
Changing the stigma of mental illness in teens
A strong stigma against mental illnesses has been around in the US for years: if you have a mental illness, you need to be fixed. When role models like Kristen Bell speak up, this stigma changes. Seeing a strong, successful actress announce on television that she has problems and she’s okay with asking for help will motivate other struggling individuals to seek out help.
Having a mental illness doesn’t make a person broken, it just means they need to learn how to cope with it and that can rarely be done alone. For just anxiety alone, only about 1 in 3 people struggling with it get the treatment they need. This is due to many factors, one of them being fear; a fear to speak up and ask for help because of the label put on those with a #mental health issue. Some of these people push past their mental issue without the correct help, but many don’t. Many continue to battle their illness for a lifetime, hoping to conquer it, but never quite winning.
This is why even one celebrity sharing their story has such a large impact on the perception of mental illness in teens. Even if it helps only a few to come forward and seek out support, those lives have been improved and they can pass on their success to others.