Mariah Carey: An Unexpected Mental Health Advocate

Singer Mariah Carey’s recent brave revelation that she suffers from bipolar disorder is a shining example of how celebrities can use their status to improve dialogue and policies regarding mental and other illnesses.

Superstar singer Mariah Carey has had a rough few years. She has been dragged through the media and been the target of many a late-night talk show host’s jokes. And this was even before her near meltdown on Dec. 31, 2016, during a nationally televised New Year’s Eve performance.

However, no one should be making fun of Ms. Carey now. In fact, we should be applauding her. Why?

Last month she gave an exclusive interview to PEOPLE magazine detailing her struggle with bipolar disorder. Anyone going through bipolar — I know several — is battling demons. Ms. Carey is fighting those monsters while in the public limelight and performing.

Yes, Ms. Carey is famous. Some may argue that we should have more sympathy for those struggling with bipolar disorder who aren’t a celebrity. They may have a point.

However, her bravery — particularly as a celebrity admitting she has a serious mental illness while knowing the consequences that can come with such a revelation — can be useful to mental-health awareness and treatment. Like most mental illnesses, there is a severe stigma attached to many in our society to bipolar disorder. Perhaps Ms. Carey’s interview will educate some people on bipolar, or at the very least get a conversation started.

When it comes to health and medicine, you are more likely to see a celebrity talking about an illness if they are shilling for a drug or medical product. Ms. Carey is opening up about an illness she is personally suffering from. This is exactly why she should be lauded and why I personally applaud her for her bravery, considering my own history with mental illness.

Will ridiculing of Ms. Carey continue? Undoubtedly, as that is what gets people to read articles and watch late-night comedians. But I see her as an advocate for mental-health awareness – and as an example other celebrities could learn from. Thank you, Mariah.


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


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