Because we’re all about discussing mental health and fighting the stigma of mental illness, we at Talkspace decided to celebrate women who are changing the conversation on mental health and illness for the better.
Some use their star power to challenge stigma and inspire others to open up about mental illness. Others innovated in fields relevant to mental health. Past or present, they are part of the reason our society is moving toward breaking the stigma of mental illness and valuing mental health.
Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey appeared on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” where she admitted to contemplating suicide following the emotional aftermath of her loss to Holly Holm. It was empowering for people who were afraid to open up about their mental health issues.
The media covered this interview more thoroughly, but Rousey has actually spoken about mental health issues several times. She has discussed issues such as her father’s suicide and body dysmorphia, often donating to or promoting organizations that support people with eating disorders or suicidal thoughts.
If you are interested in studying mental illness or psychotherapy but don’t know who Marsha Linehan is, it’s time for you to become familiar. Linehan created dialectical behavior therapy [DBT], an approach that has become a standard for treating borderline personality disorder [BPD] and people at risk of suicide. It has also been effective in treating addiction, depression, post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and eating disorders.
After several decades, Linehan opened up about her past with mental illness by revealing she created DBT to be the treatment she wished she had during her youth. Linehan was admitted to a clinic when she was 17 and became the sole occupant of the “seclusion room,” a cell for the most severely mentally ill patients. The staff felt they had no choice but to send her there because she harmed herself with anything she could get her hands on.
Through her willpower and faith in God, Linehan improved her symptoms enough to lead a healthy, successful and balanced life. It took many years, but she was able to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and adopt a child.
Before she became the successful author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling suffered from depression to the point where she — like Rousey — contemplated suicide. Rowling has discussed this in many interviews, pointing to examples of mental illness influencing her writing such as the Dementors symbolizing the feeling of depression. She is also active on Twitter, where she frequently discusses mental illness.
Demi Lovato has spoken about her struggles with bipolar disorder and is the face of BeVocal, an organization that promotes positive conversations about mental illness. She has also opened up about addiction via interviews and social media.
Comedian and actress Sarah Silverman has opened up about dealing with depression during many interviews. She describes it as being home but still feeling homesick. Her informal attitude in candor has helped destigmatize the conversation.
With enough drugs gathered to overdose, Sia was going to die by suicide until a friend called at exactly the right time. She then entered a 12-step program and stabilized her life enough to continue her successful career.
Sia has opened up about her bipolar disorder as well, believing it stemmed from overusing drugs as an adolescent. She also mentioned her father’s struggle with what seemed like dissociative identity disorder. Her interviews have inspired many women to discuss their mental illness.
Tipper Gore, accomplished photographer and Vice President Al Gore’s wife, has used her political power to speak about mental illness. She also opened up about her depression during a time when it was not politically expedient for her to do so (her husband was running for office and the stigma of depression was worse at the time).
Let us know if we missed anyone! Any month of the year is a great time to shout out women’s contributions to improving the conversation and treatment of mental illness.