This story originally appeared on 5.2.2018
Actress Kristen Bell lives with anxiety and depression.
Maybe you wouldn’t have guessed it scanning through her work on IMDb. She’s the voice behind Anna in “Frozen,” after all; the star of a former hit show called “The Good Place,” for goodness sake.
Those seem like, um … happy roles. Right?
That’s why Bell is speaking out again about her mental illness.
The media we consume — on our phones, in the magazine aisle, even in Bell’s own delightful TV series and films — rarely convey an accurate depiction of reality. And Bell is advising anyone else living with mental illness not to be fooled.
In a video produced by the Child Mind Institute, Bell opened up about what she’d like to tell her younger self.
“What I would say to my younger self is don’t be fooled by this game of perfection that humans play,” she said. “Because Instagram and magazines and TV shows — they strive for a certain aesthetic, and everything looks so beautiful, and people seem like they don’t have any problems. But everyone’s human.”
She continued (emphasis added):
“Everyone has problems. Everyone feels yucky on the inside sometimes. And you deserve to feel just as beautiful on the days that you wear no makeup, and the days you don’t shower, and the days that you feel like you’re depressed. And you have an obligation to take care of yourself from the inside out, because that’s how you can truly feel beautiful.”
In recent years, Bell has spoken up candidly about her own mental health in hopes it can benefit others.
The actress was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when she was 18 years old. As she explained to “Off Camera with Sam Jones” in 2016, her mom had been the one to fill her in on their family’s history with mental illness.
Bell started taking medication to help — and has no qualms about it. “I still take it today; I have no shame in that,” Bell explained. “You would never deny a diabetic his insulin, but for some reason when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they’re immediately ‘crazy’ or something.”
Her anxiety and depression, Bell noted, is probably the biggest differentiation between her own life and the characters she portrays on screen.
Depression and anxiety affect millions of Americans of all ages. But despite their prevalence, stigma surrounding mental illness — dissuading people from reaching out, for instance, or shaming them for taking medication — remains a major barrier stopping people from accessing the resources they need.
Bell wants every kid to know they deserve to feel better.
“Never feel embarrassed or ashamed about who you are,” Bell advises viewers in her new PSA. “Never feel embarrassed or ashamed about the uniqueness that is you, because there are people out there to help. And we’re all just human. And you can do it.”
The Child Mind Institute is an independent nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children struggling with mental health and learning disorders.