Kristen Bell on the stigma surrounding mental health: “You’re labelled as a failure if you can’t kick depression”

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Amy Lewis
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Kristen Bell has joined celebrities including Lena Dunham, Ruby Rose, Cara Delevingne and Wentworth Miller in calling out the stigma and silence surrounding mental health issues.

After opening up about her own experience with depression in an open letter back in May, Bell has now revealed that she had no idea how powerful the act of sharing her story would be.

In a new interview with US magazine Redbook, she says: “It didn’t occur to me that I would help anybody.

“Also, I didn’t expect to be so moved by people’s comments on social media about how they had been prescribed medication and never wanted to take it until now because it finally didn’t feel shameful.”

Bell first suffered from depression during college, but despite having lots of support from her mother, who she says encouraged her to seek medical help, the Frozen star says she felt the need to keep it a secret during the first 15 years of her acting career.

“When you try to keep things hidden, they fester and ultimately end up revealing themselves in a far more destructive way than if you approach them with honesty,” she writes in her letter for Time.

“I didn’t speak publicly about my struggles with mental health for the first 15 years of my career. But now I’m at a point where I don’t believe anything should be taboo.”

Bell has described the way in which depression, for her, was more than just a ‘bad day’ or feelings of sadness.

“It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness,” she explains. “Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure.

“Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s important for me to be candid about this so people in a similar situation can realize that they are not worthless and that they do have something to offer. We all do.”

In her latest interview, Bell tells Redbook she believes it’s now time we all called “bullshit” on the stigma and damaging stereotypes that so often surround depression, anxiety and mental health problems.

“You’re labeled as a failure if you can’t kick depression. That’s bullshit,” she says. “You would never deny a diabetic his insulin and go, ‘Why can’t you process sugar on your own?’”

Bell joins an inspiring line-up of A-listers and campaigners alike, who stress the need to approach mental illness in the same way you would a physical one.

While model-actress Ruby Rose has been incredibly open about her own experiences, Lena Dunham has also called on the media to show more ‘normalising’ portrayals of women who taking positive action to deal with mental health problems.

Urging for those taking medication to feel ‘no shame’, she writes in Instagram: “Lately I've been noticing that nearly every pop cultural image we see of a woman on psychiatric medication is that of an out-of-control, exhausting and exhausted girl who needs help.

“But guess what? Most women on meds are women who have been brave enough to help themselves. Meds didn't make me a hollowed out version of my former self or a messy bar patron with a bad bleach job. They allowed [me] to really meet myself.

“I wish that for every lady who has ever struggled. There's really no shame.”

Images: Rex


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Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis is a freelance writer and editor, a lover of strong tea, equally strong eyebrows, a collector of facial oils and a cat meme enthusiast. She covers everything from beauty and fashion to feminism and travel.