They’re Just Like Us: Celebrities Normalize Mental Health Breaks

by Denis Storey
May 9, 2024 at 2:40 PM UTC

Celebrities have started taking mental health breaks from their careers, which represents a growing public acceptance of the practice.

In a move that earned her the most press since her coronation, Miss USA made headlines this month when she announced she was giving up her crown to focus on her mental health.

Noelia Voigt, the first Venzuelan-American to earn the title, made the announcement last week on Instagram, writing, “I realize this may come as a large shock to many. Never compromise your physical and mental well-being. Our health is our wealth. A million thank yous to all of you for your constant and unwavering support. Time to write the next chapter.”

Miss Brands, the organization behind the annual pageant, quickly fired off a Facebook post in support, writing, “We respect and support Noelia’s decision to step down from her duties. The well-being of our titleholders is a top priority, and we understand her need to prioritize herself at this time.” 

But there’s a twist. Two days later, Miss Teen USA stepped down from her throne, too. UmaSofia Srivastava, offering a little more insight, posted, “I find that my personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization. While this was certainly not how I saw my reign coming to a close, I am excited to continue my advocacy for education and acceptance, start applying to colleges, and share some exciting new projects.”

As we reported earlier this year, employees are eager to discuss their mental health concerns at work and are increasingly asking their employers for help.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that celebrities struggle with the same mental health issues we do. So, we wanted to highlight a handful of stars who decided to step off stage to take care of their mental health.

Selena Gomez
Caption: Selena Gomez MTV VMA 2011 Credit: AleeDear.

Selena Gomez

Triple-threat celebrity Selena Gomez cut a world tour short in 2016 to get some help. She struggled with anxiety and depression while navigating a wave of panic attacks following her lupus diagnosis.

“I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off,” she explained in a statement. “Thank you to all my fans for your support. … I know I am not alone by sharing this, I hope others will be encouraged to address their own issues.”

After her return to public life, including a pandemic-inspired cooking show on Max, Gomez continues her vocal mental health advocacy.

Simone Biles
Joe Thomas and Simone Biles Credit: Erik Drost

Simone Biles

Fresh off a record-tying performance in 2016 at the Summer Olympics in Rio, U.S. gymnast Simone Biles announced that she wouldn’t compete in 2017.

“I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she said at the time. She also blamed a bout of what those in the sport call the “twisties,” a mental block that can induce disorientation in gymnasts while they’re in the air.

She returned a year later and continued to win medals and break records

Kit Harrington
Kit Harington at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International in San Diego, California. Credit: Gage Skidmore

Kit Harrington

Jon Snow, famous for knowing nothing on HBO’s smash hit Game of Thrones, took a similar break at the height of his fame. At least the actor who portrayed him did. Right after the show’s controversial finale, Kit Harrington decided to take a break.

“I went through some mental health difficulties after Thrones, and during the end of Thrones, to be honest,” Harrington told a podcaster in 2021. “I think it was directly due to the [violent] nature of the show and what I had been doing for years.”

During his time away, he checked into Privé-Swiss, a private luxury health and wellness clinic, got sober, and addressed a recent ADHD diagnosis.

Tom Holland
Tom Holland at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International in San Diego, California. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

Tom Holland

One of the younger stars that the Marvel Cinematic Universe blew up into a superstar, Tom Holland revealed he was taking a break from social media in 2022.

“I have taken a break from social media for my mental health, because I find Instagram and Twitter to be overstimulating, to be overwhelming,” Spider-Man’s alter ego explained in an Instagram reel at the time. “I get caught up and I spiral when I read things about me online. And ultimately, it’s very detrimental to my mental state.”

He got sober that same year, admitting to an ongoing struggle with alcohol.

John Fetterman
Credit: John Fetterman Campaign Website

John Fetterman

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pennsylvania,  managed the unthinkable in 2023 by checking into a clinic for depression without sacrificing the support of his constituents. As we reported, he sought help barely a year after suffering a stroke.

“We understand the intense interest in John’s status and especially appreciate the flood of well-wishes,” the senator’s communications director, Joe Calvello, said in a statement at the time. “However, as we have said this will be a weeks-long process, and while we will be sure to keep folks updated as it progresses, this is all there is to give by way of an update.”

Further Reading

7 Lifestyle Habits Cut Risk of Depression by 57 Percent

Exercise Reduces Heart Risk by Giving the Brain a Break

Rethinking Mental Health in a Post COVID World

Clinical and Practical Psychopharmacology

Antipsychotic Medication Continuation vs Taper and Discontinuation in Patients With Schizophrenia and Other Nonaffective Psychotic Disorders

Dr Andrade discusses two studies that examined the outcomes of gradual, individualized antipsychotic dose reduction and discontinuation in patients with psychosis.

Chittaranjan Andrade

Letter to the Editor

Geriatric Depression: What Clinicians Need to Know

The authors discuss what clinicians should be aware of when caring for elderly patients with depression.

Ahmed Naguy and others