Protecting Hollywood Stars' Mental Health

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Rebecca Roy, M.A., former coach of Olympic athletes, is helping young Hollywood "Stay Sane in an Insane Industry." It isn't an easy task.

"Too many times, the signs of psychological distress in these young artists are overlooked by those working closest to them," Roy said. "Agents and managers, and even producers and directors, need to at least be aware of symptoms of mental health problems so they can get them the appropriate help before things spiral out of control."

As a therapist who works with numerous creative people, Roy said she sees a great deal of shame surrounding the need to ask for help.

"That sense of embarrassment is increased ten-fold if the person is well known. In the paparazzi age, who are they going to go to for help and be sure it's confidential? The pressures are enormous. People's livelihoods depend on them; most think they can handle it because they have been trained to be 'good little soldiers.' But these are often young people who haven't yet developed the coping skills to deal with overwhelming feelings."

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Roy said most people in the Industry also don't want anyone to know they are depressed or anxious or facing the same kinds of mental health issues everyone else does. "Even though substance abuse is considered 'okay' and even a right of passage for some artists, mental health issues like personality disorders, mood disorders such as bipolar and major depression or abuse issues are verboten. No one wants to talk about it or, God forbid, expose it for fear they won't get hired."

That's why it's incumbent upon Industry people close to these stars to be willing to ask talent if they're okay. "The usual attitude is 'it's none of my business.' It might feel awkward and like an intrusion, but sometimes, when you are really hurting, just having someone reach out may make all the difference," Roy said.

A former national, collegiate and international champion, and a member of the Industry for many years, Ms. Roy has first-hand knowledge of the pressures of early achievement.

"When someone has accelerated development, there are usually emotional and psychological deficits that become apparent later. If they grew up around adults who never recognized that they were dealing with a developing person, the result can be a sense of self that is based on what others think of them."

"This fractured self-image is a shaky foundation when that person begins to experience overwhelming emotions later in life. It is incumbent on the Industry to recognize these people as young people and get them help to manage the stress they are under," Roy said.

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