The first time Howie Mandel spoke publicly about his mental health issues was after an interview on The Howard Stern Show. Mandel had a panic attack trying to leave the studio. Now a mental health advocate as well as a celebrity, Mandel offers some insights on coping with mental health issues.
Mediaplanet: What can Canadians do to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues?
Howie Mandel: I would imagine that the best way is to just be open, and I think the more open you are, the easier it will be to find solutions to help you. That’s what makes it a stigma: a stigma, by definition, is a disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. Why is there a disgrace? I think that the disgrace wouldn’t exist if everyone was able to realize the importance of getting the help they need and learning coping skills surrounding mental health.
What are common misconceptions about ADHD, OCD, or other mental health issues that you feel need to be addressed?
I think it goes for any mental health issue. The biggest misconception is that you can just wish it away or think a different way. It’s much more real. People believe that it’s something you manifest yourself, and because you can’t see it on an X-ray, it doesn’t really exist, and you can change it. But it is very real, and your mental health is just as important and perceivable as your physical health.
What advice do you have for people seeking treatment for their mental health?
Don’t give up! Even if you get treatment for your mental health issues, sometimes that treatment or help doesn’t work. People have a tendency to give up, or to make decisions on their own that probably won’t end up being the healthiest for them.
What steps can Canadians take to improve their mental health, and what steps did you take to get the help you needed?
It starts with talking about it, and it doesn’t have to be OCD, depression, or ADHD. It could just be, how do I cope with the divorce of my parents? How do I cope with becoming a new parent? How do I cope with my workload, or being fired? People don’t think of these as mental health issues, but they are.