Celebrating World Mental Health Day

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day (October 10), an event specifically designed to raise mental health awareness. Sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), this year’s theme is “Dignity in mental health”. With mental health conditions now affecting one in five Americans, it’s clearly an issue that deserves more attention.

According to the WHO, thousands of people with mental health conditions are deprived of their human rights. They are discriminated against, stigmatized and marginalized; they are also subject to emotional and physical abuse. WHO is on a mission to change that and they’re using World Mental Health Day as a vehicle to make sure that people with mental health conditions are able to live with dignity.

While there are an infinite number of take-away lessons to be learned, the importance of support and connection are crucial. If you’re struggling with a mental health condition or behavioral disorder, you’re certainly not in this struggle alone.

A Look at the Numbers

As of 2014, there are over 200 classified mental illnesses. Some of the most commonly diagnosed include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dementia
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression

Notable Names with Mental Health Issues

Mental health disorders are not selective in their victims. In fact, you’d probably be blown away by the number of celebrities, writers, artists, politicians and thinkers who are struggling with mental illness in both public and private settings.

Here’s a look at three famous figures who struggled with mental health issues:

  • Ernest Hemingway

    American novelist and journalist Ernest Hemingway began suffering severe bouts of depression following the deaths of his fellow literary associates. Despite finding success as a writer and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1954, Hemingway’s alcoholism, health issues and paranoia are often cited as the variables to his 1961 suicide.

    The Hemingway family has been plagued by the realities of mental illness. In fact, seven members of the family ultimately went on to commit suicide. Fortunately, Mariel Hemingway –granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway – worked tirelessly to break the cycle. She has penned two inspirational and self-help books about overcoming the family’s history of mental illness, alcoholism and drug abuse.

  • Vivien Leigh

    Academy Award winning British actress, Vivien Leigh battled bipolar disorder for most of her adult life. Her illness was characterized by severe mood swings and bouts of manic depression, which put a strain on her marriage to fellow actor, Laurence Olivier.

    After filming A Streetcar Named Desire, Leigh developed insomnia and began hallucinating while on a flight to Los Angeles in 1953. She was admitted to a psychiatric facility, where she successfully underwent various therapies and shock treatments.

  • Howard Hughes

    Aviation magnate and film producer Howard Hughes is infamous for his crippling OCD, germophobia and eccentric behaviors. Stories about Hughes’ behavioral issues were often the talk of the town. Mental illness pushed him to take on bizarre activities like wearing tissue boxes on his feet or burning his clothes after coming into contact with a person he considered to be ill.

    As if Hughes’ OCD rituals weren’t bad enough, a devastating plane crash in Beverly Hills left him in chronic pain and dependent on opiates for life. Although Hughes had access to the most prominent medical professionals and mental health experts, he would seldom heed their advice. Had he participated in a treatment program, Hughes would have likely continued his quest to revolutionize the airline industry.

Taking Charge of Your Life

Over the last ten years, we’ve taken some crucial steps forward in both the mental health and medical communities. Thanks to those clinical, pharmaceutical and technological advancements, most people diagnosed with mental health conditions or behavioral disorders are able to lead perfectly normal lives.

Today, celebrities like Carrie Fisher, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jim Carrey speak openly about life with mental and behavioral disorders. Their stories, along with the stories of so many others, tear down the harmful and hurtful stigmas attached to mental health.

Additional Reading: Enabling Behaviors: When Helping Really Hurts
Image Source: Pixabay

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