"Took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up."
Mental health matters, no matter who you are. For men in Hollywood, it can be difficult to be open about personal struggles, especially in a culture that's filled with toxic masculinity. That's why when those stars do speak out publicly, it's important to highlight their voices. Not only do their stories give a first-hand account of what it's like to deal with mental health issues like anxiety or depression but it also helps normalize the conversation surrounding the topics. In turn, it might even give other men the courage to be open about their struggles too — and eventually get help.
Here's what these stars had to say about their mental health…
Jon Hamm has always been outspoken about the benefits of therapy. The actor, who once went to rehab for alcohol addiction, says he wants people to know that it's important to take care of your mental health just as you would if you had any other physical issue with your body.
"Medical attention is medical attention whether it's for your elbow or for your teeth or for your brain. And it's important. We live in a world where to admit anything negative about yourself is seen as a weakness, when it's actually a strength. It's not a weak move to say, 'I need help.' In the long run it's way better, because you have to fix it," Jon said in an interview with InStyle.
Kevin Bacon admits that he's been dealing with anxiety for decades. Just as he was finding fame, he suffered his first panic attack amid concerns about his career, his mom's health and his wife's pregnancy. Since then, he's been an advocate for therapy because "everybody has worry in their lives." In addition to therapy, Kevin also often turns to music, penning songs about what he's going through.
"I find writing songs extremely therapeutic. It is like if my therapist goes on vacation. it's a good time to pick up a guitar and talk about what's going on…I wrote a song called 'Shaking.' It starts out being about earthquakes in Southern California, but it's a metaphor about anxiety," Kevin told The Mirror.
Zayn Malik's struggle with anxiety began back when he was in One Direction and continued with him when he started his solo career. It even caused him to cancel concerts which, at the time, he let fans know was due to his mental health struggle. He's now got things more under control but knows it was important to be honest about it when he was going through it.
"I now have no problem with anxiety. It was something I was dealing with in the band. People saw strength in that, and they didn't seem to expect it from a guy, but they expect it from a female, which to me is crazy. We're all human. People are often afraid to admit difficulties, but I don't believe that there should be a struggle with anything that's the truth," Zayn told Sunday Times Style magazine.
Over the past few years, Prince Harry has been incredibly open about his mental health — especially how he was impacted by the passing of his mother when he was just 12. While Harry admits he "shut down" his emotions for almost two decades, he finally realized how it was affecting both his personal life and his work.
"I can safely say that losing my mom at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well…I started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, 'There is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with,' Harry said on the Bryony Gordon's Mad World podcast.
Now, Harry wants to help others who are struggling with their mental health by "normalizing the conversation" and he's even helmed a mental health docuseries in partnership with Oprah Winfrey.
Carson Daly has been dealing with anxiety since he was a child and was eventually diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Despite appearing cool and collected on television, he often struggles with anxiety attacks that can make him feel like he's "dying." He says they don't just happen during high-pressure situations like television appearances but can also occur when he's just hanging out with family and friends. Thankfully, he's been able to get help through therapy — and hopes others can do the same.
"I opted for a cognitive therapist, somebody who teaches you about anxiety, the model of it, and offers you tools on how to kind of work through it. Muscle retention relaxation really helps me," Carson told "Today," adding, "People are so afraid about what other people think of you. I wish people could break down that wall, too. I guarantee you, everybody has got something."
Ryan Reynolds admits that he's experienced anxiety for his "whole life" and has been open about his struggle. While he says he tends to "overthink, overwork, [and] over-worry," he explained that he's able to put on a persona when it comes time to be in the spotlight. And when he's off-screen, he uses meditation and mindfulness to stay calm.
"I tend to pave over anxiety with work and, to a lesser extent, achievement. You want to tick boxes sometimes. So these days, my goal is to be as present as I can and not just tick a box just to do it. I'm fully embracing and living that right now. It's been amazing," Ryan told WSJ Magazine.
Dwayne Johnson has dealt with depression for a large portion of his life. In addition to stopping from his mother from a suicide attempt when he was just 15, he admits he hit a low point after numerous injuries ruined his dreams of playing professional football. While he says he and his mother have both "healed," he has realized the importance of paying attention to others who are in pain.
"We all go thru the sludge/shit and depression never discriminates. Took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone," Dwayne wrote on Twitter.
Wayne Brady may be a funny guy on screen but he actually secretly battled with depression for years. He explained that for a long time he found himself trapped in a cycle of wallowing in his own darkness and feeling as though he didn't deserve to get better. He says he hit rock bottom on his 42nd birthday but it ended up being the moment he realized he needed to make a change.
"It took me a while to get my stuff together to go, 'You know what? If you're not happy, you have to do something about it.' Just to admit that you are feeling this way is a huge step. To claim that, to say, 'Why do I feel dark? Why do I feel unhappy? Let me do something about this,'" Wayne told Entertainment Tonight.
Olympian Michael Phelps may have been one of the best athletes in the world but behind the scenes, he was struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. He explained that he carried negative emotions for nearly two decades without discussing how he was feeling and hit an all-time low when he was caught driving under the influence for the second time and was then suspended by USA Swimming.
"I can tell you I've probably had at least half a dozen depression spells that I've gone through. And the one in 2014, I didn't want to be alive…I basically carried just about every negative emotion you can possibly carry along for 15, 20 years and I never talked about it. And I don't know why that one day I decided to just open up. But since that day it's just been so much easier to live and so much easier to enjoy life and it's something I'm very thankful for," Michael told "Today."
Pete Davidson has long been open about his mental health struggles, which began when he was just a child. After being in and out of inpatient treatment facilities for much of his life, he was finally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder when he was 23. Just having a name for what he was dealing with was a huge help to Pete, who says it felt like the "weight of the world" was lifted off his shoulders. And although he still faces depression, he has learned ways to cope with it.
"I wake up depressed, but now I know my steps. I have to go outside and be in sun for a little bit, or go for a walk. It's all just programming yourself to trick your brain… As long as you're around good, supportive people, and if you're strong enough, you'll be able to get out of it," Pete said in an interview with Charlamagne Tha God.
Not only has Chance the Rapper struggled with anxiety, but he's trying to make a big difference in the conversation surrounding mental health. The musician explained that he never talked about mental health as he was growing up, sharing that he wants to change that for the next generation. So far, he's donated $1 million to health services in Chicago through SocialWorks, his nonprofit organization which has a mental health initiative called My State of Mind.
"A really big conversation and idea that I'm getting introduced to right now is Black mental health. 'Cause for a long time that wasn't a thing that we talked about. I don't remember it. I don't remember people talking about anxiety; I don't remember, when I was growing up, that really being a thing. Now I'm starting to get a better understanding of that part of my life," Chance told Complex.
Wentworth Miller has dealt with depression since childhood and says he hit a low point in 2010 when he was semi-retired from acting. While "suffering in silence," he admitted he was "suicidal" and on a "path to self-destruction." Sometimes the only thing he found himself looking forward to was a favorite meal. Looking back on photos from that time period, Wentworth says it is a reminder of all that he's persevered through.
"Now, when I see that image of me in my red T-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without…If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They're waiting to hear from you," Wentworth wrote on Facebook, via Mashable.