Catherine Zeta-Jones has Bipolar Disorder: An Opportunity to Talk About Stigma
According to the headlines this morning, Catherine Zeta-Jones has bipolar II disorder, and has been undergoing treatment. Good for her.
Bipolar II, though not as disabling as Bipolar I, can be significantly disabling, particularly given the sort of stress under which Ms. Zeta-Jones is reported to be.
Recently, the tabloids have provided us with a never ending cycle of celebrities behaving badly, some clearly suffering from addiction issues and/or mental health issues, usually reported with a great deal of glee. It is refreshing to see this sober news about Ms. Zeta-Jones being treated with compassion. l
George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America discussed the issue this morning and made a statement that speaks to the ignorance of not just the news media, but of the general population. He said that “mental health isn’t stigmatized like it used to be, is it?” or words to that effect. His colleagues quickly corrected him.
A couple of years ago Britney Spears clearly had some sort of mental health crisis, one that appears to have led to inpatient treatment for a fairly extended length of time. I remember the chortling laughter, the hundreds (thousands) of Britney Spears jokes that sprung up over night. The same thing happened to Lindsey Lohan, and most recently, Charlie Sheen.
Any time a celebrity admits to having a major issue in their life, it presents an opportunity for the larger society to have a dialogue about that issue. Mental health in general, and mental health stigma in particular, are issues that appear to be providing us with an opportunity for discussion.
Let’s treat this space like a forum. Is mental health taken seriously in this country, or do we treat it like a joke? Do we assume people can “just get over it”, or do we generally treat people as though they’re doing the best they can, and help them get the help they need.