Selena Gomez, the popular teen singer and actress, has been open about her mental health ever since she told her fans that she was diagnosed with Lupus in 2015. Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease that comes with several mental health symptoms, such as social isolation, anxiety, and depression. Shortly after making the announcement, Gomez took some time off to tend to her mental and physical health.
Selena Gomez and 13 Reasons Why
During her time away from singing, Gomez worked as the Executive Producer of the hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. The series documents the fictional events leading up to the suicide of a young girl (Hannah Baker) and the aftermath of her death. Gomez explained that she resonated with the theme of the show saying, “To be frank with you, I actually was going through a difficult time when the [the show] started production.” She went on to say, “I went away for 90 days, and I actually met tons of kids in this place that we are talking about. A lot of the issues these characters [in the show] are experiencing, I would say yes, I’ve had to deal with it on a different scale.”
Selena Gomez was away for 90 days at a treatment center in which she focused on her physical and mental health. More specifically, she went away to focus on managing her “anxiety, panic attacks, and depression”. About the Netflix series, Gomez commented, “It hits a very important part of me, and I think this is what [kids] need to see.”
When Stars Speak Out
One of the reasons why the Netflix series has become so popular is because of the mental health issues the show highlights, particularly suicide, which are very real issues for teens. Adolescence can be a harrowing time, leaving teens feel vulnerable and at risk for mental illness. When teens struggle with mental illness, relating to someone they look up to who also has the same illness can be incredibly supportive. For this reason, when teen stars come out about their struggles, it can help teens in the following way:
- Provides teens with inspiration, hope, and motivation to stay well.
- Lets teens know that they are not alone.
- Helps to de-stigmatize mental illness.
- Gives teens a community of others who may also have mental illness and who have a teen idol in common.
- Lets teens know it’s possible to live with a mental illness and still succeed
When teens have these positive experiences, they are more likely to learn about mental illness and utilize healthy coping tools to best manage their symptoms. The following discusses tools and techniques teens can use to cope with their symptoms and prevent mental illness from getting in their way.
Healthy Tools to Manage Teen Mental Illness
Whether it’s anxiety, depression, or mood swings, learning to relax and become calm is an essential skill. In fact, the key to managing anxiety is to learn how to be calm. In fact, sometimes, teens don’t ever really know what a calm state is. This is especially true if they grew up in an environment of chaos, stress, or trauma. Keep in mind that it’s easy to look calm. But teens can still feel anxious, confused, lost, and fearful on the inside. If a teen is feeling anxious, learning how to get calm and stay calm is a pivotal skill. Here are a few ways to learn about relaxation:
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of your internal and external environment. When a person is mindful they are aware of the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting the existing feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding activity. Mindfulness can be a great way to learn how to relax, particularly because it takes a person’s attention away from the anxious thoughts and on what’s actually happening right now.
Guided Imagery: This is an experience of relaxation in which a person listens to a CD or audio track and follows the imagery suggested by the narrator. There is usually soft, calming music playing in the background. If teens were to use guided imagery on a regular basis, they would begin to know relaxation more often than anxiety.
Exercise: Although exercise will get a teen’s heart pumping and won’t facilitate relaxation, exercise can help release tension and pent up emotions. Here’s what Selena Gomez said about exercise:
If I don’t work out, I feel heavy. Everything about me just feels a little bit down. And sometimes I will just run on the treadmill and get emotional because it sort of relieves everything that you’re feeling.
Yoga: You might say that this is a combination between exercise, meditation, and relaxation. When practicing yoga, a person is focused on their body while also moving into different positions. The stretching and movement that a person experiences with yoga can also help them release tension and anxiety.
Selena Gomez Says to Get Help
When Selena Gomez realized that it was all too much for her, she finally made the decision to stop. At the 2016 American Music Awards, Gomez commented on finally getting professional mental health support:
I had to stop, ’cause I had everything, and I was absolutely broken inside. And I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down. But I kept it too much together to where I let myself down…. If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken.
It’s important for teens to know that they can get help. As Gomez said, “you don’t have to stay broken”. A mental health professional, such as a therapist, can provide teens with the right mental health treatment for their diagnosis. If necessary, a therapist can also connect a teen with other helpful resources, such as support groups, a treatment center, or a psychiatrist for medication to help ease symptoms. In fact, untreated mental illness can sometimes lead to more severe symptoms.
If you are a teen struggling with symptoms of mental illness, talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, coach or another adult you trust.
Dr. Nalin has provided training and mentoring to students entering the field of psychology at institutions of learning including Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, UCSD, Pacific University, and Santa Monica College. He was also instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.
Dr. Nalin has appeared as an expert on shows ranging from CBS News and Larry King, to CNN, The Today Show and MTV. He was also featured in an Anti-Drug Campaign for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Dr. Nalin is a Diplomate of the National Institute of Sports Professionals and a Certified Sports Psychologist as well as a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist. He lectures and conducts workshops nationally on the issues of teen mental health, substance abuse prevention, and innovative adolescence treatment.
In 2017 Dr. Nalin was awarded The Sigmund Freud Foundation and Sigmund Freud University’s Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his work with youth in the field of mental health over the course of his career.