Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and Others Are Changing the Messaging on Mental Health

In this video, Amanda Calhoun, MD, MPH, of the Yale Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, highlights celebrities who have opened up about mental health issues, and how mental health professionals can incorporate these narratives into professional and patient education. Calhoun and colleague recently authored a paper in Academic Psychiatry on the positive effect of celebrity self-disclosure of mental illness.

The following is a transcript of her remarks:

It’s so interesting, you know, not only is the album [Taylor Swift’s “Midnights”] itself pretty monumental in the themes that she talks about — as far as Taylor Swift’s new album — but also just the responses on Twitter from Taylor Swift’s new album have been amazing, and I’ve definitely been following that as well.

She talks about having an eating disorder, struggles with weight, and even particular lines in her album have been taken out by fans and retweeted. She also talks about depression. I know there’s a line where she sort of likes her depression to being on a graveyard shift, and that really resonated with a lot of people, and thinking about how depression can be tied to insomnia and sleepless nights and sort of messing with your sleep- wake cycle, which is very much a thing with depression.

I feel like not only was the album itself very monumental, when it comes to talking about mental health issues and topics in an artful and creative way, but also I’ve been very pleased to see how much it resonated with fans and how much they really are listening to the lyrics and the symbolism behind those lyrics.

People have even retweeted things ‘This very much resonated with me and my depression or my eating disorder’ or ‘I see myself in this album. I was listening to this and crying at night.’ So it resonated very much with fans, and I think that’s really, really important.

Another celebrity that I want to highlight that I have been a big fan of has been Lizzo. Lizzo, who’s currently on tour, has done so much for body positivity and talking about anti-Black racism and transphobia and just so much. I mean, her tour, which I went to see, was literally like therapy; I felt like I was in therapy on her tour. She was talking about how special everyone is and [to] love yourself and self-worth, so celebrities are doing a lot of amazing things, and I’m really excited to see what they continue to do and think about ways in which psychiatrists can continue to partner with them.

Megan Thee Stallion has a whole online platform now. One of the things that I really like about her website is that on the website, you can actually search for diverse therapists, specifically for Black people [and] Black patients. It’s a real problem for minoritized patients to not be able to find therapists of their background, not just for Black people, but for other people of color, LGBTQ, people of essentially minoritized and marginalized backgrounds are often seeking therapists that have that background, or have an expertise in working with people of their background.

So what I really like about Megan Thee Stallion’s platform is it’s around empowering women that you can be a strong woman and an amazing woman and still seek therapy. That it’s okay as a woman, especially as a Black woman, where…personally, as a Black woman, I make up less than 2% of psychiatrists. So there is a real need for more Black therapists, and oftentimes Black patients are seeking a Black therapist, but they don’t know how to find us. So I love that she has so many resources to seek therapy.

There’s a lot of focus on, I guess, the negative impact of talking about mental health in the media and even among celebrities. Like ‘Oh, you’re spreading disinformation,’ and ‘What if you’re inappropriately representing mental illness?’ and just all these things that are very real issues in the media and things that we have to consider, like, are we actually spreading good information? But there’s actually a lot of really positive things about what celebrities are doing with their platforms.

In the paper, we talk about multiple celebrities disclosing mental illness. So in the paper, we talked about Demi Lovato and people like that, where after they sort of disclosed that they had a mental illness, you actually saw not only an increase in help-seeking behaviors, but a decrease in how the general public [negatively] viewed people with mental illnesses. So I think that’s really, really important.

I think there’s also a lot of benefit in using these celebrities as a model and connecting with our patients. When talking about mental illnesses with kids or with adolescents, especially, likening it to celebrities that are out there, platforms that are out there. Basically using all the positives from celebrities, and all the kids and adolescents and adults who look up to those celebrities, and basically saying ‘Hey, here’s an example of someone who’s endorsing that they have a mental illness, or they have a platform that destigmatizes mental illness. Have you seen it? What do you think about it?’ So it can be a really great way to engage with patients as well.

I think there’s a lot to learn and there’s a lot to be done with celebrities as far as partnering. And I think sometimes, you know, psychiatry can be a siled field. We can be very much sort of in our bubble of psychiatry. So it can be this mystical thing; no one knows what’s happening, like ‘What is psychiatry? What are we doing?’ So I think also by partnering with celebrities, we can share accurate information in a way that’s able to be widely disseminated. And also to share that we have normal conversations; psychiatrists and our psychiatric patients are regular people. We have fun, we talk about things, it’s not this scary, mystical thing.

I think there’s so much work that we still have to do, but I’ve been pretty optimistic about the newer, upcoming generations. I do think there seems to be a lot more talk about mental health in a positive and accurate light that I very much co-sign.

  • Emily Hutto is an Associate Video Producer & Editor for MedPage Today. She is based in Manhattan.

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiO2h0dHBzOi8vd3d3Lm1lZHBhZ2V0b2RheS5jb20vcG9wbWVkaWNpbmUvcG9wbWVkaWNpbmUvMTAxODA10gEA?oc=5

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