Selena Gomez Speaks Up, Even When It's Uncomfortable

Selena Gomez

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Being in public eye means having your every move scrutinized and critiqued. For many, this leads to strong attempts at living privately; for a select group of others, being constantly under a microscope leads them to stand tall and proud about the struggles they face in life.

Such is the case with Selena Gomez, who has been forthright about both her mental and physical health struggles for nearly a decade, and who has gone so far as to co-found a "mental fitness" organization and create a documentary around her mental health conditions.

Ahead, we'll highlight Gomez's outstanding contributions to furthering the social conversation around mental health and removing the stigma from mental illness, contributions that make her a worthy selection for the Verywell Mind 25.

Using Her Platform to Be Honest

Gomez was diagnosed with lupus in 2014, and soon thereafter told the world about it. She did not shy away from painful discussions about the autoimmune illness, and was forthright about chemotherapy treatment, as well as a needed kidney transplant several years later.

At the time of her diagnosis, Gomez was not yet aware that mental health conditions can accompany the disease. She went public with that information after learning in 2016 that depression and anxiety can be side effects of the illness, and canceled part of a tour to get a handle on her emotional state.

She has spoken candidly about her mental health ever since 2016, divulging her experience with therapy and treatment. In 2018, Gomez suffered a psychotic break, and was subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She shared this too with her audience, despite the potential backlash, and even disclosed that she had begun medication for the disorder.

When you consider how difficult it is to share intimate health issues with just our own friends and family, the gravity of Gomez's bravery is all the more apparent. In a world climate that was still stigmatizing and judging people with mental health issues harshly, Gomez opted to use her enormous platform to share equally enormous truths.

The Wonder of Wondermind

With the knowledge that mental health needed to be addressed on a larger scale than her own stories could convey, Selena Gomez began raising money for the cause. Along with two other people—including her own mother—she cofounded and launched Wondermind in 2022.

The website posits itself as a commitment to mental fitness, taking the concept of mental health and expanding it to one that acknowledges the endless work needed to stay well. It frames mental wellbeing as similar to physical: In the same vein that you need to exercise your body to stay physically fit, you need to exercise your mind and emotions to stay emotionally well.

To launch Wondermind, Gomez helped to raise the needed funds in 2021. Tennis star Serena Williams, through her venture capital company Serena Ventures, contributed $5 million. Both her mother, Mandy Teefey, and the other cofounder, newsletter entrepreneur Daniella Pierson, struggle with their own mental health issues, and share about them candidly on the website.

Content on Wondermind includes explainer pieces about assorted mental health conditions, essay by celebrities and experts, a podcast called "The Business of Feelings," and even a section about how to alleviate stress around finances. There is a "Filter by Feels" icon that lets you choose an emotion, such as sad, happy, envious, or lonely, and see associated essays and articles on the subject. Additionally, Wondermind offers a newsletter you can subscribe to, through which you will receive what the site describes as "actually useful mental health content."

Her Mind and Her

In late 2022, Gomez released an Apple TV+ documentary entitled "My Mind & Me." It's over an hour and a half of footage filmed over six years, and while filming initially occurred within the context of it being a tour documentary, it turned into one about Selena's mental health journey. In the trailer for "My Mind & Me," Gomez states, "and I don't want to be like super famous. But I do know that if I'm here I have to use that for good." She adds that, "what makes me happy is connection and it helps me get out of my head."

In timing with the documentary, Gomez released a song with the same title; it was shortlisted for a potential Academy Award nomination. The song's chorus is an ode to how sharing her struggles has opened the door to helping others, with the lyrics "My mind and me / We don't get along sometimes / And it gets hard to breathe / But I wouldn't change my life / And all of the crashin' and burnin' and breakin', I know now / If somebody sees me like this, then they won't feel alone now / My mind and me."

A Bright Future

While Gomez' lupus has been in remission for some time, she has shared that she considers dealing with her mental health a lifelong endeavor. After releasing such a personal documentary, she moved on to record her next album in early 2023, which doesn't yet have a release date.

She has a makeup brand called Rare Beauty, which aims to build a "safe, welcoming space in beauty and beyond,"and she also stars in the Hulu mystery/crime show "Only Murders in the Building," which has two seasons available to stream and was picked up for a third. Whatever she does next, we know that Selena will do it with an admirable amount of honesty.

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity.