May 20, 2022 — Actress and singer Selena Gomez shared her mental health journey at the White House on Wednesday, encouraging others to share their stories and help shift the cultural narrative from awareness to action, according to USA Today.
Days after she appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” Gomez hosted the first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum. The event, which was led by MTV Entertainment and the US Department of Health and Human Services, focused on the growing youth mental health crisis affecting more than a third of high school students.
Gomez was joined by First Lady Jill Biden, Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council, and 30 activists and creators — who all had different personal stories to share. Gomez said that sharing her own story was freeing.
“I heard a phrase actually recently that I really like, ‘That which is mentionable becomes manageable,’” she said during the event, according to Rolling Stone.
“I felt like once I found out what was going on mentally, I found that there was more freedom for me to be OK with what I had,” she said, “Because I was learning about it.”
Previously, Gomez has discussed her bipolar disorder diagnosis and advocated for mental health awareness.
“Bringing attention to mental health through media or just talking about your own journeys can help,” she added. “It sets the example that it’s a topic that can and should be discussed freely and without shame.”
Beyond awareness, Gomez said she hopes the Mental Health Youth Action Forum and other events can lead to tangible changes and the development of accessible, culturally relevant services and resources for young people.
“I want to ensure that everyone, no matter their age, their race, religion, sexual orientation, has access to services that support their mental health,” she said.
The event also included input from young content creators who shared their struggles, such as depression and suicide. They encouraged others to funnel their painful experiences into change. Biden advocated for destigmatizing mental health as well.
“The darkness inside of us can feel heavy at times, but we can share the weight of it together,” she said. “It takes courage to be honest about the struggles that you’ve faced and to tell your stories.”
Since 2006, MTV Entertainment has hosted events to discuss mental health and has dedicated programming to eliminate stereotypical and harmful representations of mental illness on TV, USA Today reported. The Mental Health Storytelling Coalition, for instance, led to the first Mental Health Media Guide, which is now used by major media companies such as NBCUniversal and Disney.
Although progress has been made, as seen with complex portrayals of mental health in shows such as HBO Max’s “Euphoria” and Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman,” more work needs to be done, Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks, told USA Today.
“I think this is going to take a societal movement,” he said. “And we’re at the very beginning of that journey.”