Breaking down the stigma of addiction and mental illness is essential. Celebrities can play a critical role in lifting the curtain on mental health disorders when they choose to talk about their struggles. It’s no secret that mental health diseases cut short the lives of many famous people over the years. Musicians, actors, artists, and even comedians are susceptible to debilitating psychological issues.
When it comes to comedians, many Americans still find it hard to believe that Robin Williams is gone. Williams took his own life nearly five years ago, after a protracted battle with substance use and depression. His story is proof that the way things appear on the surface doesn’t always reflect what is happening underneath.
Williams was not unique; many of our favorite comedians over the decades have battled with substance use and mental illness. The list of comedic actors and stand-up performers who are gone too soon is long. Those who are best at making others laugh are often the most tortured. What’s more, such people are often hesitant to talk about their issues for fear of how it will impact their career.
Fortunately, the climate is changing; it’s become more acceptable for comedians to open up about their mental health. Some do it on stage, while others share in interviews that they are in therapy or recovery. Such individuals are doing a service to younger generations determined to be in comedy.
Comedians Talk About Mental Health
At the recent Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, Canada, a group of comedians discussed how they cope with mental health issues, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Byron Bowers (The Chi), Keith and Kenny Lucas (The Lucas Bros: On Drugs), Felicity Ward, Courtney Gilmour, and Solomon Georgio (Two Dope Queens), all shared about their struggles.
Each of the comedians has some valuable insights to share with the audience. They also manage to talk about these deadly severe topics with a touch of levity. When discussing their addiction, Keith and Kenny Lucas said they go to therapy together.
“We didn’t want to pay twice for the same story,” Keith Lucas said about the joint therapy sessions with his twin.
Through talking candidly about mental health in the industry, comedians are eroding the stigmas. Mental illnesses are treatable, and recovery is possible; depression and anxiety do not need to end in tragedy.
Gilmour told the panel that stand-up comics hide insecurity, depression and even suicidal thoughts, according to the article. She says comedians will talk about everything on stage but will guard their internal issues. The 2017 Festival’s Homegrown Comics Competition winner shared:
“I had crippling anxiety and depression during times I felt I was doing really well. I felt so guilty. Who am I, to get what I’ve wanted my whole life, and I feel sad?”
Hopefully, more comics will open up about their mental health and how they cope with depression, anxiety, and addiction. Talking about mental illness is vital; mental health disorders progress in silence.
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