Teen Star Rowan Blanchard Bravely Speaks Out About Depression
A year after throwing down her intersectional feminist knowledge on fans, 13-year-old Disney star Rowan Blanchard is tackling a new subject: mental illness. The Girl Meets World actress took to her Instagram over the weekend to share a story with her 3.3 million followers, about struggling with depression.
“As I found myself, this year in particular, going through ups and downs with depression, I realized that instead of rejecting and ostracizing these teenage feelings (human feelings), I can learn to love the intensity of them and know that everything is momentary,” Rowan wrote. “I learned this year that happiness and sadness are not mutually exclusive. They can exist within me at the same time in the same moment. While also becoming more forgiving of myself and my emotions, I became more forgiving of others, specifically other teenagers.”
It’s an important step forward towards ending the stigma over a mental health issue, one that affects youth and adults alike. According to recent studies, 20% of youth and 43.8 million adults in the United States will struggle with a mental health disorder in their lifetimes. In honor of Blanchard’s open letter on her own struggle– not too mention the onset seasonal depression from the tears freezing on our cheeks–here’s a quick look back on the celebrities who spoke up this past year to remind their fans that they are’t alone in this battle.
It’s tough to be a kid these days and—more often than not—parents just don’t understand. That’s why it’s so inspiring to see Blanchard speak out at such a young age, and inspire her teenage fans. She isn’t the first Disney star to speak out, either. Demi Lovato has overcome a turbulent rise to stardom that—at the age of 18 in 2011—caused her to cancel a South American tour. She entered rehab for depression, self-harm, eating disorders and substance abuse. Lovato has since recovered, and become an advocate for mental health issues with her organization Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health. It advocates for others struggling with mental health issues, and has them share their stories and connect to form a community united in dealing with this together.
Young Disney stars weren’t the only ones speaking out about depression in 2015. Everyone from Bollywood starlet Deepika Padukone and Modern Family star Reid Ewing to comedians Sara Silverman and Wayne Brady have spoken about different aspects of depression that they personally deal with. Brady particularly brought up a point often overlooked in discussions about mental illness, linking masculinity to treatment.
“What kind of man would I sound like if I told somebody, ‘Hey, I am so sad. I’m cripplingly sad. I can’t get out of bed. I just feel empty. Help me,’ ” he explained to People, “I’d be [seen as] some sissy. I’d be soft. That’s what you’re taught. That’s how you were programmed. And that’s what kills us.”
It’s important when dealing with depression and any other mental health issue to remember that these issues affect everyone no matter your race, age, sexuality, gender or level of fame. As we all huddle together for warmth as winter finally descends on our fragile souls, it’s inspiring to see Rowan start off 2016 right by continuing the fight to break down stigma over mental health and inspire us to make a resolution to treat ourselves better.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to crisistextline.org. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264) also provides support and local referrals.
Images and video via Getty Images, SAMHSA, and ET Online.