• Aug 10th 2023
  • Est. 3 minutes read
Brittney Griner Takes Break From Mercury Road Trip for Mental Health

In recent weeks, two basketball stars, Brittney Griner of Phoenix Mercury and Ricky Rubio of Cleveland Cavaliers, have announced they are stepping back from the game to focus on their mental health. Griner and Rubio join a growing list of public figures taking breaks from the spotlight. Influential people opening up about their struggles reminds us of the importance of pulling on the brakes to protect our mental health.

Celebrity can be exhilarating but can also cause anxiety and depression due to loss of privacy and unrealistic expectations. A study by Clinical Psychologists into the impact of fame identified that celebrity mental health concerns include mistrust and isolation.

Dr. Jesse Hanson, a licensed Clinical Psychologist and MentalHealth.com's Medical Content Director believes that one of the reasons for the increase is the impact of our modern culture. "The insane pace and pressure that is put on celebrities and professional athletes are causing a rise in mental health breakdowns," identifies Hanson.

Indeed, it does seem that in recent years, an increasing number of celebrities are announcing that they are taking a mental health break at the height of their careers. These include gymnast Simone Biles, who this month returned to competing after a two-year mental health break, and Canadian singer Shawn Mendes who recently canceled the remainder of his world tour.

Hanson acknowledges that although struggling with mental health is not a new experience for those in the public eye, it has become more apparent due to mental health concerns becoming recognized and openly discussed in society. As he explains, "we are living in exciting times where the findings of modern neuroscience research show that it is important to feel our feelings, express them as emotions, and do our best not to be embarrassed or ashamed of being vulnerable."

Famous people discussing their mental health has many benefits. A 2022 study identified celebrity disclosures reduce stigma by increasing the public's awareness of mental health, generating openness in speaking about mental health problems, and seeking help when needed.

One recognized coping mechanism is to take a break from whatever it is that is causing your mental health to decline. Dr. Hanson believes that it is vital to do this because "as a culture, we have all become conditioned to a state of "normal" that does not acknowledge that we have feelings, emotions, and mental health needs. If we don't take breaks from the constant going, doing, and "winning" of our social framework, it is our brains and bodies that pay the price."

Knowing the signs of an impending breakdown and quickly addressing them is crucial to avoid the situation escalating. Dr Hanson advises, "when our mind is pushed too hard, our body will show the symptoms of that pressure." Common signs include increased heart rate, sleeplessness, sweaty palms, and skin conditions like psoriasis. "These are all indicators that we need to slow down and take a mental health break," he adds. 

For many, taking a break to protect their mental health may seem unrealistic, especially at work. However, companies are increasingly recognizing the need to protect their employees' mental health. The U.S. Department of Labour advises businesses to consider flexible working arrangements and allow staff time off for mental health treatment. Some companies, including LinkedIn and Nike, have even given their whole team a paid week off work to recharge.

Even if a complete mental health break is not possible, we still need to devote time to protecting our mental health. "We must employ physiologically healthy patterns such as meditation, mindfulness, and exercise into our daily life. Our nervous system is just not meant to be ON all the time. If we don't take breaks, our system will short-circuit," warns Hanson.

About MentalHealth.com

MentalHealth.com is a patient-first technology company driven by its mission to make optimal mental health attainable for everyone. With a focus on expanding care access, empowering choice, and enhancing care quality, the company delivers innovative solutions that support individuals throughout their mental health journey.

Published: , Last edited: Sep 20th 2023