11/05/2017 12:33 BST | Updated 11/05/2017 12:33 BST

Celebrity Voices That For Once Should Be Heard


It has been refreshing to see so many people - using their 'celebrity' - over the last few months come forward and share their mental health experiences with the world. As we struggle to remove the stigma that sticks like a fly to a web whenever the word depression is used, the more people coming forward and speaking out can only serve to help.

We have had a landslide of higher profile celebrities speaking out - most recently Prince Harry - which helps to correct the misnomer that mental illness is something to be ashamed about. Something to be hidden away from the world. Something we shouldn't speak about.

It is especially helpful when those who make the newspapers on a regular basis, speak out about their struggles. These are the people who society deem to be of a public interest, they are the names and faces that people worldwide look up to. Those people who the rest of us yearn to be. The footballers, movie stars, musicians and the ultra-rich that most people will admit to have wished they could swap places with.

And when those people speak out, others listen.

Mental illness is without question the most stigmatised illness in the world today. People who have never suffered with it, simply don't understand it. Indeed, the vast majority of those who do suffer with it, don't understand it.

For too long it has been linked with lifestyle and material assets. How many times have we heard people say: "I don't know why you're depressed, you got a good job/house/car etc." In fact, only last week the Daily Mail showed just how far behind some parts of society are, when they used Premiership footballer Aaron Lennon's salary in a headline about his recent mental health struggles. As if the amount of money he earns each week, should in some way have a bearing on whether he is mentally well.

And so, when the people that so many of us daydream of being, begin to strip away their celebrity skin and bare their real selves to the world, the world begins to take notice. Those at home, alone, begin to realise that they are not the only ones in the world who feel that way. They hear stories from the people who have 'everything' and begin to realise, over time, that whatever you may have materially it doesn't make you any different from anyone else with a mental illness. Ultimately, as has been said a million times before, beneath the surface we are all the same.

A number of years ago, there were angry claims that the 'perfect' airbrushed images of women portrayed in magazines and newspapers were unrealistic and made females in society insecure; unattractive; worthless. The media and some models were denigrated by society at large.

This is a pendulum swing in the opposite direction.

And this is one area where the cult of celebrity really can help. We should be celebrating those who have come forward to tell their stories on a global scale. Because the only way we can remove the stigma is by encouraging everyone to talk about how they feel.