Celebreties, Anxiety and Mental Health Awareness

A few days ago, Kendall Jenner published a couple posts on her app detailing how she has been struggling with anxiety during this past year. She talked about learning how to cope with panic attacks by doing everything from breathing exercises to painting her room a calming shade of pink. Now normally, Kardashian/Jenner-related news is not something I pay attention to, but this story caught my eye. I, like so many other people, deal with a type of anxiety that, at any moment, threatens to put my day on hold, renders me incapable of doing anything but panicking and hoping for it to pass. Before I came to Lawrence, I was never comfortable talking about my mental health, and refused to get myself any kind of help for years on end. There was a time in high school when I vomited multiple times a week due to anxiety and depression. I lost tens of pounds, lost hair, was always pale, and could barely eat. When I eventually did talk to people, both medical professionals and friends, I got a variety of answers. Some told me to suck it up, others said that anxiety and depression were not real, and my school counselor told me simply to pray. It took me a long time before I started sticking up for myself hard enough to get on medication, but still I have people in my life who don’t take my mental health seriously or, even worse, mock me for it. Even as I grow more confident talking about these issues, I still have to wake up every morning and fight for the care I deserve and fight the voice that tells me not to ask for the help I need.

This is the reason I read about Jenner’s struggle. If she was a role model of mine back when I first trying to cope with my anxiety and depression, maybe I would not have waited so long to tell people how I was feeling—maybe it would have affected the way other fans of hers lent me their support. Maybe having a celebrity make me feel normal might have changed my life for the better.

Nevertheless, this announcement of Kendall’s is more than just an encouraging “it’s OK to have mental health difficulties!” PSA. The surnames Jenner and Kardashian come with a lot of connotations, whether positive or negative. Through accidentally scrolling down too far while reading articles about Kendall and her anxiety, it was clear to me that many people believe this confession is simply a publicity stunt, a ploy to gain sympathy and followers, or just another example of millennials being crybabies. One comment even went so far to say that she was too rich and too beautiful to be affected by anxiety. Another mentioned that now young girls will fake anxiety to be like Kendall and that mental health issues will be a trendy fad. Others, however, were overjoyed and moved to see a young, successful celebrity being honest about struggling with something usually kept secret.

The reactions are mixed, as things in celebrity culture always are, but there is no denying that Kendall’s posts spurred conversation. It’s hard to say if this will change anything, and, if so, whether that change will be positive or negative. Kendall Jenner struggling with anxiety is not news that will significantly change my life in any way, but I won’t underestimate what kind of inspiration it might instill in others. I believe that dialogue is important, that mental health issues should not be taboo, and for those reasons, I am encouraged to see these problems in the headlines.

(Other celebrities who have spoken out about anxiety and depression: Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Sarah Silverman, Beyoncé, Adele, Oprah, Amanda Seyfried, Chris Evans, Kate Moss, John Mayer, and more)