Celebs & Science: Sometimes It Works

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We here at the Council have often taken to task celebrities who speak out against medicine and science — see Jenny McCarthy on vaccines, Jessica Alba on chemicals, and more — frankly, because 99 percent of the time they are far from experts on the topics and have no clue what they are talking about. But since many celebrities stand on a pedestal that tends to get noticed by the general public, they are often heard more loudly than us science folk. So naturally we are pleased to see that some new-generation celebrities often shed light on a very dark topic: mental health. Singer Lady Gaga has been very vocal about her struggles with anxiety and depression. Last year, Gaga told Billboard that she has dealt with mental illness her entire life, though music has helped her help others who are struggling, especially young people. “I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day," she told Billboard. "I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal.” Singer Demi Lovato told Women's Health Magazine her quiet suffering with bipolar disorder over the years is the reason behind her awareness campaign: Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health, which encourages people to discuss their mental illnesses in order to tear down the stigma around them. That stigma has many suffering in the dark. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four adults — approximately 61.5 million Americans — experience mental illness in a given year. And one in 17 (roughly 13 million) live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder. What's more, approximately 20 percent of those aged 13 to 18 suffer from some form of mental illness in a given year. That's 20 percent too many. Those numbers alone are the reason why talking about mental health should never be taboo. Even in Hollywood, where having a therapist is chic, mental health disorders are a reality, and any celebrity who opens up to teen magazines about it is OK in our book.