Winona Ryder is not here for your mental health shaming.
The “Stranger Things” actress recently told New York Magazine that she doesn’t understand why there’s still a negative stereotype surrounding emotional wellbeing. She also nailed how sexist attitudes further stigmatize women with mental health challenges.
“I’m so sick of people shaming women for being sensitive or vulnerable. It’s so bizarre to me,” she told the magazine.
“I wish I could unknow this, but there is a perception of me that I’m supersensitive and fragile,” she continued. “And I am supersensitive, and I don’t think that that’s a bad thing.”
She’s right: Being in touch with your psychological health is crucial to overall wellness. But the negative perceptions surrounding mental illness ― mostly the false notion that it makes a person “weak” ― often make it difficult for someone to admit when they need support. In fact, research shows stigma can prevent people from seeking treatment at all.
That’s what makes testimonies like Ryder’s so important. They give conditions like depression a public voice, which in turn can help normalize them. The actress has been open about her experience with anxiety and depression for more than a decade ― and she’s proud of it.
“I don’t regret opening up about what I went through [with depression], because, it sounds really cliché, but I have had women come up to me and say, ‘It meant so much to me,’” she told New York Magazine. “It means so much when you realize that someone was having a really hard time and feeling shame and was trying to hide this whole thing … And even the whole, like, sensitive, fragile thing. I do have those qualities, and I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with them.”
The reality is that mental health disorders exist. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the spotlight or if you’re male or female. Nearly one in five American adults will experience a mental health issue in a given year. They’re incredibly common and not a person’s fault.
So, like Ryder points out, why are people still discrediting mental illness or psychological differences like they are worthy of shame?
PSA: They’re not.