Just a thought: Mental health isn’t just a “normal” people problem

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Anxiety and depression are becoming increasingly common in teens and young adults, with many Boise State students suffering the effects of mental illness in some regard every day. Although the numbers are high, the psychological impacts are even more devastating, and it is, unfortunately, a common problem for individuals to commit suicide as a result. Trauma is no longer isolated, and those beyond the campus environment are just as prone to its effects.

Mental illness, while becoming more widely advocated for in recent years, is still often seen as a “hush-hush” discussion in the status quo. Whether students find themselves unable to discuss their turmoil with a professional — although numbers of those seeking help are on the rise — or struggle to cope individually with their symptoms, the flaws with the current discourse seem endless.

Ariana Grande, who has suffered the death of a loved one and the end of her engagement within the same two-year period, recently released images of her brain scans that show activity in her brain reflecting symptoms of PTSD. Other than the trauma she has faced, this release of information reflects a number of problems surrounding the stigma around mental health and discussion of trauma. While it may be important for many that Grande made the decision to speak out, the societal pressure for her to disclose her condition is telling of how inhumanly celebrities are often depicted  in the minds of the public and, often, the fans.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the chart-topping performer, Grande’s mental health should never be at stake when discussing her career. The expectation for celebrities to “shut up and dance” in the face of trauma and disease for the sake of making music or films is a harmful sentiment that not only promotes Hollywood and music industry toxicity, but also the idea that mental health is no more than a personal construct.

This isn’t to say that no one in the spotlight ought to speak out about their mental health. Celebrities like Zachary Levi and Grande’s comedian ex, Pete Davidson, have spoken out about the importance of speaking out and, although their efforts have started small, their impact has the potential to be life-altering. Consumers of the media and pop culture will continue to dance along the fine line of pressure and opportunity when it comes to talking candidly about emotional trauma, but support ought to be the key term in the discussion.

Whether one is suffering with mild depression or borderline personality disorder, the expectation should be a simple one. Famous or not, severe or not, mental health topics ought to be open for healthy discourse at the discretion of the sufferer, not the pressure of their fans — just a thought.

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