Actress Bella Thorne has faced a backlash for tweeting that she had “come to the conclusion” she was suffering from depression.
In a now-deleted post, originally sent to her 6.5 million followers, the 19-year-old said: “Came to the conclusion that I struggle with depression :/ you aren’t alone❤️.”
Some users accused the star of trivialising mental health issues, saying depression is not the “latest trend” and is not the same as “being sad or unhappy”.
It’s unclear whether Thorne has self-diagnosed herself with depression or if she’s received a formal diagnosis from a medical expert.
But leading charities have said we “shouldn’t dismiss the validity” of someone saying they are experiencing a mental illness.
On Twitter, some fans accused Thorne of not taking depression “seriously” by posting the short message.
Cal Strode, spokesperson for the Mental Health Foundation, said it’s not uncommon for people to self-diagnose mental health issues and we should be wary of criticising them for it.
“Today, most of us naturally seek information online when we’re concerned about our mental health and after reading about symptoms, it’s not uncommon for people to self-diagnose before receiving a formal clinical diagnosis,” he told The Huffington Post UK.
“Around two thirds of people who experience mental health problems are not accessing mental health services and not getting formally diagnosed, so we shouldn’t dismiss the validity of someone saying they are experiencing depression. Being in touch with the reality of how we’re persistently feeling is the first step on the road to recovery.
“The big problem is not people self-diagnosing with mental health problems such as depression, it is the millions of people living with the symptoms of depression who are not getting a diagnosis or the support they need.”
Jayne Hardy, founder and chief executive of the Blurt Foundation, agrees we should think twice about judging someone else’s mental health based on a tweet.
“It’s impossible to know the backstory of the tweet - what circumstances led to the tweet being published. It could be that Bella has been really struggling lately and has read an article about depression that resonates and suddenly, a range of things that she’s experiencing have started to make sense. It could have been a flippant tweet too. We just don’t know,” she told HuffPost UK.
“What we do know though, is that depression is a debilitating illness which takes lives. There’s a sense of frustration from those who are, and have been, affected by depression I think - each time the word ‘depressed’ is used to describe something fleeting, in a flippant way, it diminishes our painful experiences and that’s actually quite dangerous as it plays into the hands of stigma/misunderstanding and can prevent people from reaching out for the help they need, and deserve.”
“It’s interesting to me, because on the one hand it appeared quite flippant and nonchalant, but for someone who suffers with mental health, the first thing I felt when reading it was that it was a cry for help,” she told HuffPost UK.
She added that it’s important we’re careful with the language we use when discussing mental health issues.
“Mental health issues aren’t something you choose, nor are they something to be belittled or tossed around as a throwaway statement,” she said.
“I truly believe that the more mental health is discussed, the better. We fall in to issues like these because it’s not widely talked about and the majority of us are uneducated on the topic.
“There needs to be more caution applied, so that mental health is recognised as something we should all take seriously - but that can’t happen with the lack of support we currently receive.”
The Huffington Post UK has contacted Bella Thorne’s team for comment and is waiting to hear back.
Useful websites and helplines:
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393 Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.) Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org