Emma Stone

It’s no secret that mental health is a taboo topic. The silence surrounding mental health often prevents us from reaching out and seeking the help we need. This is especially true for kids--oftentimes when we’re children and we start to experience symptoms of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, we have no idea why we’re feeling this way, and we think something’s wrong with us. So we keep it inside, and, left untreated, the struggles we face make life harder and harder for us.

That’s why celebrities who have experienced these struggles throughout life, and now have a voice to bring attention to them, are speaking out through interviews and partnerships with various organizations, so that people who struggle with mental illness can receive the treatment they need, no matter their age. Last year, actress Emma Stone partnered with the Child Mind Institute, an organization which serves children who suffer from mental illness and learning disabilities. Through her partnership she opened up about her experience with anxiety and panic attacks, which started early on in her childhood. When she first started experiencing symptoms, she shares in an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, her parents brought her to therapy, which she says helped her tremendously. She still experiences anxiety to this day (though, she notes as she knocks on the wood on Colbert’s desk, “not panic attacks”); but, as she discovered early on, acting and improv help her to keep that anxiety in check.

In a video made for the Child Mind Institute, Stone addresses her younger self--the self who first started experiencing anxiety, and didn’t know why, or what it meant, or how to cope with it. What she tells herself, and all kids who struggle with anxiety and feel so different because of it: “You’re so normal, it’s crazy.” She elaborates, saying that everyone experiences anxiety to some extent--and just because people with anxiety disorders may feel these feelings to a greater degree, or a longer period of time, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s bad to feel that way. And though when in a state of anxiety, it feels like it’s never going to stop, it always does: it “ebbs and flows” in a way that you can manage with access to the right tools, and as you get older it gets easier and easier to figure out what makes you most comfortable. “Thinking a lot, feeling a lot,” as those with anxiety are prone to do, is such a special thing--addressing anxious kids, she says it’s “what makes you amazing,” and she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

In the midst of the troubling silence surrounding mental health, I’m happy that kids have such a vocal and inspiring role model as Emma Stone. Her impassioned message to her anxious younger self resonated with the confused and frightened child that I once was, and I hope that message reaches others who are struggling, so that they know how special they are, and that seeking help will aid them in pursuing the best lives they can make for themselves.