Celebs Spread The Word About Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

By Victoria Kim 05/04/17

Celebs and athletes are sharing details about their own battles with mental health issues for the awareness campaign.

Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Phelps
Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Phelps photos via The Child’s Mind Institute

An estimated 15 million young people in the United States can be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, with many more at risk, but only 7% of these youth receive professional help, according to a 2001 report by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

To highlight the need for better access to mental health care for children, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is enlisting the star power of Olympic medalists Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt, to help drive this message home. 

“As we travel all over the country, we’re often asked about our training, diets, and routines for staying fit,” said Phelps. Being involved in the campaign “gives us a chance to emphasize that paying attention to mental health is another important component of growing up healthy.”

The two athletes will be recognized on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Thursday (May 4), for modeling healthy behavior and sharing openly about their own struggles with mental health.

Last year, Phelps reflected on the changes he made after enduring two DUIs and a stay in rehab. He told The Today Show’s Matt Lauer at the time that he’d sent himself in a "downward spiral" and that he “felt like at one point I didn’t want to see another day.”

In December, he told Adweek how he was able to turn things around and bring himself to a better place. “I’m different than I was two years ago,” he said. “I look in the mirror, and I love who I see. That was a huge step for me.” 

Also following this month’s theme of mental health awareness, the Child Mind Institute, a non-profit dedicated to helping children struggling with mental health and learning disorders, kicked off its What Would I Tell My Younger Self? campaign. 

The campaign enlists famous faces from all walks of life—from Keke Palmer to Tommy Hilfiger to Jay Leno—and asks them: what would you tell your younger self about growing up with a mental health or learning disorder? There is a different celebrity for every day of the month of May.

“You’re so normal it’s crazy,” said actress Emma Stone (La La Land, The Amazing Spider-Man) to her younger self about having anxiety. “To be a sensitive person that cares a lot, that takes things in a deep way, is actually part of what makes you amazing … I wouldn’t trade it for the world, even when there are really hard times. There are so many tools that you can use to help yourself in those times, and it does get better and easier as life goes on.”

Actor Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland) talked about growing up with obsessive compulsive disorder. “It’s not the worst thing in the world … even though it might feel like the worst thing in the world,” he said. “But actually having that anxiety might be indicative of other beneficial, positive characteristics like sensitivity to the world, or empathy … that could benefit you over the long term.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr