Fearne Cotton’s frank words about PTSD prove an important point about mental health

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Christobel Hastings
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Fearne Cotton is no stranger to speaking out about her mental health – and in a new interview, the presenter had some important words about reframing her experience of PTSD.

If you’re a regular reader of Stylist, then you might have noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about mental health recently. That’s because the unprecedented challenges of the year have put an awful lot of pressure on us, resulting in a significant rise in levels of stress and anxiety

While we’re big advocates of encouraging conversation in order to break down the shame and stigma that still prevents people from seeking help, we also know that improving your mental health is a lot easier said than done. Which is why Fearne Cotton is such a breath of fresh air.

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The TV and radio presenter has become a refreshing voice of change in recent years thanks to her popular wellness podcast Happy Place, and the release of three self-help books, Calm, Quiet and Happy, in which she draws upon personal experiences to explore how to navigate life’s daily stresses and arrive at a place of happiness. 

This year, Cotton has also been furthering the conversation around mental health online, sharing resources, recommendations and advice to help people during the pandemic, as well as candid stories of dealing with anxiety and depression. Her heartfelt commitment to raising awareness is what made her a worthy recipient of The Hope & Grace Mental Health Advocate award at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards earlier this year, which recognises a woman who is a champion for the current narrative on mental health.

Fearne Cotton won Mental Health Advocate of the Year at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2020.

In a new interview with The Guardian, the mental health advocate opened up about the dread she experienced the night before appearing on television during the first lockdown. She recalled lying awake in bed, consumed with panic at the prospect of what she had to do the next day.

“Intellectually, I know I’m going to be OK,” she explained. “But my body goes into panic. It’s a whole PTSD thing, feeling unsafe in certain spaces. I worry something is going to go wrong or I’ll be judged, and I go into catastrophe mode.”

Instead of viewing her condition through a negative lens, however, Cotton went on to acknowledge the complexity of her mind.

“I have a really big imagination, which is amazing – it allows me to write and be creative,” she continued. “But it also sends me to bad places, from where I can’t get back.”

Fearne Cotton headshot against a blue background
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Cotton’s words are valuable, because she reframes the experience of mental health. People living with conditions such as anxiety and depression have the capacity to tap into both “good” and “bad” places, depending on where we are in our journey with mental wellness. And neither one of those places define us as people.

What matters is that we come to treat our mental health with acceptance and kindness, and be intentional about caring for ourselves regardless of our emotional state. With conversations like this, we’re moving closer to it. 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, you can find support and resources on mental health charity Mind’s website or see the NHS’s list of mental health helplines and organisations here.

For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email

Images: Getty