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hollywood stars
catherine zeta jones
mental health problems
hollywood legend
throat cancer
Mental Illness And Society: Famous Hollywood Stars
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So another Hollywood star has revealed that they’re suffering from a mental disorder. In this case it’s the Welsh actress Catherine Zeta Jones, CBE, wife of Hollywood legend Michael Douglas. Presenters have all expressed their surprise at the news, as it seems no one suspected that she was unwell. Most seem to have forgotten the many snide comments that were made by certain journalists during the last year, about how much weight she’d lost and how gaunt she looked, which were then tempered by the revelations that her husband was suffering from throat cancer.

When I heard the news, I was curious about why she’d released the news at all. Perhaps someone was about to leak it and she decided to do a pre- emptive strike to spoil any scoop. If that was the case good luck to her. Or perhaps she decided to release a statement because she wants to raise awareness of mental illness and show how she has recovered from it.

If I wanted to be perfectly horrible, I could suggest she did it because she is just about to start working on two films, and recently she hasn’t exactly been setting the world alight with her film career. So perhaps she’s going for the sympathy vote.

The fact is the only person who knows why she decided to let her publicist put out a statement is Zeta Jones herself. But I have to admit that I have some scepticism about the value of film stars and singers talking about their mental struggles. I know there is the argument that it’s good to raise awareness about mental illness and it certainly does that. I’m just not sure how much of the awareness is positive and realistic.

Everyone knows being rich doesn’t guarantee you good health. But money does give you access to resources. I gave a small smile when it was reported that Zeta Jones booked herself into a clinic, and thought of the many people with relatives with mental health problems who have no chance of getting them into a hospital ward.

I’m not knocking Zeta Jones, I’m really not. I just question how easy it is for ‘ordinary’ people to be so open about their mental illness. It's very easy to be open with a large bank account and a profession that has grown increasingly accustomed to their stars suffering from mental health problems.

I know too many people who don’t disclose their mental illness at work, because they have experienced discrimination and isolation or they are afraid they will do so. In many ordinary walks of life revelations of mental illness are not met with sympathy or seen as brave and courageous, they are more often met with distrust, disquiet, disgust, fear and contempt.

So next time a Hollywood star reveals their struggles, spare some sympathy for them by all means, but remember to spare a thought for people who may have similar struggles but not the same access to care and support.


Street Talk

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