Photo Credit: Denis Makarenko /

For years, Selena Gomez has bravely shared her mental health struggles with the public, and this month, the actress singer was honored with the 2019 McLean Award for raising awareness about depression and anxiety. 

Each year, the McLean Hospital honors “individuals who have furthered the public’s understanding of psychiatric illness and mental health.” During the ceremony, The Fundamentals of Caring actress revealed, “Last year, I was suffering mentally and emotionally, and I wasn’t able to stay all that kept together.” 

Selena has described being overcome with panic attacks just before going onstage as well as immediately following performances. Moreover, the disorder haunted her in every aspect of her life. In turn, the “Wolves” singer sought treatment when she “wasn’t able to hold a smile or to keep things looking normal.”

“It felt like all of my pain and my anxiety washed over me all at once, and it was one of the scariest moments of my life,” she shared.

However, the 27-year-old actress admitted that seeking help brought about ambivalent feelings. When she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, she revealed that she felt “terrified because the veil was lifted, but relieved that I finally had the knowledge of why I had suffered with [depression and anxiety] for so many years. I never had full awareness or answers about the condition.”

Selena underwent Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) which emphasizes acceptance and mindfulness. Additionally, a therapist worked with her to alter her negative behaviors. “DBT completely changed my life,” the relieved star insisted while accepting the McLean Award.

Reaching out for help, receiving an accurate diagnosis, and following through with treatment was instrumental in addressing her suffering. Selena put all her energy into facing her difficulties head on, and it certainly paid off. Indeed, the “Kill Em with Kindness” singer said she feels happier, healthier, and has learned to control her thoughts and emotions.

Selena tells her personal story so she can inspire and help others who might be going through similar struggles. “For me, it feels right to share that I have personally felt the effects of both depression and anxiety—but it isn’t easy. I have feared being misunderstood and judged. I know that I have been given experiences and people and opportunities that have made my life exceptionally beautiful and sweet—and yet, I struggle with my own thoughts and feelings at times. But this doesn’t make me faulty. This does not make me weak. This does not make me less than. This makes me human. We need help, and we need each other,” she said.

Other actors to receive the McLean Award include Jane Fonda (2014), Mariel Hemingway (2011), and Glenn Close (2010).

Selena wishes people would speak more openly about therapy in general. Acknowledging how grateful she is for the support she received at the treatment center, she feels for those who don’t have that same luxury. But she encourages those suffering from mental disorders to open up with family and friends. “It’s so important,” she insists. “Or find a therapist who can help you cope with your depression.” This can feel like a monumental task when a person is in the midst of their darkest moments. But there is no shame in reaching out—just hope. And every person is worth fighting for. 

With each new celebrity who openly discusses his or her personal battle with mental illness, the stigma associated with mental disorders fades a bit more. And with mental health centers raising awareness about the disorders and offering effective treatments, people with such challenges can feel encouraged to seek help.

Free national and local depression hotlines are available to provide support and community resources. Here are a few:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: 1-800-662-4357. (SAMHSA also offers a behavioral health treatment services locator with complete listings of facilities and treatment centers across the U.S.)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Samaritans: 1-877-870-4673
  • National Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-4673

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