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Why Amanda Bynes Mental Illness is No Different from Robin Williams

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Amanda Bynes via Twitter

Amanda Bynes via Twitter

Recently, 28 year-old Amanda Bynes was hospitalized in an involuntary psychiatric care unit by her family. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time she has been evaluated for mental health issues due to her erratic behavior. However, as a result of her fame, Bynes and her family are having to deal with her mental health crisis while under public scrutiny.

Bynes is a former Hollywood actress who starred in movies such as What A Girl Wants and Easy A. When she retired from acting in her early 2o’s while still being very popular, it outwardly appeared as a child star wanting break from the Hollywood life. In hindsight, there were probably a lot of signs of an emerging issue, but was there anyone paying attention to a possible manifesting mental health issue?

This past August, the world lost the most famous teacher from the movie Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams, who tragically died by suicide. Words of empathy and sadness went viral all over the internet within seconds after the news came out. Testimonials by both everyday citizens and famous people shared how he impacted so many lives as well as their childhoods with his very special talents.

For a lot of people, Amanda is just another child star gone wrong, or they find her situation as one of the funniest and entertaining celebrity incidents of the past months. Others may think, Amanda Bynes is just plain crazy and should not be walking freely in streets. The actress has become notorious for her tweet feed which first alerted the public of emerging strange behavior. Gossip blogs having begun creating articles based off of her rants on twitter.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined, “as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Mental health is a topic that each and every one of us should be raising awareness about. None of us are free from potentially falling into that downfall, and it isn’t about being strong or being weak nor is it about being courageous or a quitter. It is simply about being a human being acknowledging our vulnerabilities either in our life experiences  or in our genetics that can predispose us to develop a mental disorder. I strongly believe that we should feel as empathy for Amanda Bynes as we would have for Robin Williams.

In both cases, we are talking about mental health issues that have gone untreated. The only difference is that for one, it is already too late to do something and get the proper help needed. However, we can raise awareness to help remove stigmas in effort to promote those who need treatment to seek it. I hope in Bynes’ case, she will get the proper help and support from her family and the professionals that are currently taking care of her.

Being hospitalized in a psychiatric care unit is no joke, and it shouldn’t be laughed at or turned into ridicule. It’s time we as a society start to treat mental disorders as seriously as we do for physical illnesses. Both are real and cause distress, it has nothing to do with making up excuses or simply having to toughen up in order to get better. Mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and eating disorders affect millions of Americans on a daily basis, and globally mental illness will touch one out of four people in their life-times.

Many people will not seek the help they need because of the stigma attached to these illnesses and the fear of being judged by their community. It seems like it’s easier to seek help for a broken hip, then it is taking care of your mental health. Imagine how complicated mental health care and treatment becomes when there are multiple cases in a same household. It is now time to act and raise awareness on this topic.

If you or someone you know need help, I invite you to call this toll-free 24/7 number (Suicide Prevention Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK.

Have you or someone you know experienced a mental illness ? What do you feel should be done in order to lower down these horrible statistics ? What is your definition of good mental health and how should we achieve that?

Kharoll-Ann Souffrant is a BSW student at McGill University, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She has published on The Mighty, The New Social Worker Magazine, Le Huffington Post Québec, etc. In 2015, she gave her first TEDx Talk in French on the notion of mental health recovery.

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