The celebrity culture of mental illness

Over the weekend, one of the trending topics on Facebook was Amanda Bynes and her involuntary admission to a psychiatric inpatient unit.  Reports are that her agent has let the media know that this is true.  Speculation is pretty rife at the moment about why she is there, what led to it and of course her past is being brought up all over the place.  This post is about Amanda though, this post is about the celebrity culture and mental illness.

Every time a celebrity is admitted to a psychiatric unit, looks disheveled or is otherwise not acting ‘normal’ the tabloids are quick to swoop, eager to tell us that the celebrity is ‘going off the rails’.  Speculations are thrown around, with the general consensus being that they are spoiled brats that just need to get over themselves.  Regardless of a mental health diagnosis or not.

Some people are under the impression that celebrities are immune from mental illness, that someone with that much money couldn’t possibly be unhappy or ‘crazy’.  Despite the suicide of Robin Williams, a man known for his ability to make others laugh, people are still standing by with their pitchforks of judgement.

The celebrity culture is something completely different to anything that the average person is exposed to.  We can only take a guess at the things that they go through, a guess from the sidelines, a place that’s easy to pass judgement.

I couldn’t imagine living my life under a microscope, having my every movement analysed by all and sundry.  However a lot of people believe that, that is what they signed up for, by becoming a celebrity.  I disagree.  I don’t think anyone needs to be subjected to such a strong invasion of privacy, regardless of their occupation.

Celebrities and politicians seem to be the only people who are held to this high level of scrutiny.  While I agree with the latter, I think the former needs to be cut some slack.  I believe that people should be allowed to have privacy when they are seeking treatment for a health issue.  I don’t need to see pictures of a celebrity off their face on illicit drugs, no one does.

Some people may believe that by tabloids talking about celebrities suffering from a mental illness then it helps raise awareness, and get’s people talking about it.  I say no, no it doesn’t.  These tabloids might start the conversation, but the conversation is a negative one.  This conversation plays into all of the stigma and myths around mental illness.

The trouble with this conversation too, is that it is against the will of the person the story is about.  It’s gossip, nothing more.  Could you imagine someone writing a story, posting it online, complete with pictures when you were at your most unwell, against your will?  That is essentially what the tabloids are doing.  They don’t care about the impact that story will have on the person they are writing about, they only care about making a buck.

What do you think of the celebrity culture and mental illness?

Linking up with Kirsty for I must confess.

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