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Why Bruce Springsteen’s depression revelation matters

‘Springsteen has long been committed to social justice; in writing about depression, he has perhaps undertaken a new cause, one that seeks to combat the stereotypes and stigmas about mental illness that still exist today.

Struggles with mental illness are common and familiar among rock and pop stars. They include Beyoncé, Eric Clapton, Kurt Cobain, Sheryl Crow, Janet Jackson, Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, John Lennon, Alanis Morissette and Brian Wilson. Were one also to include artists known to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol but otherwise undiagnosed, the list would be far longer. The medical literature, though limited, strongly indicates that being a rock star is a high-stress lifestyle.

But Springsteen’s disclosure is arguably unique because his image runs counter to stereotypes of depression. According to one study, for years the media has reinforced negative stereotypes of people with mental illness, often depicting them as “inadequate, unlikable, dangerous” and absent a “social identity: single or of unknown marital status, frequently without identifiable employment … confused, aggressive and unpredictable.”

These media depictions, according to public health scholar Heather Stuart, “also model negative reactions to the mentally ill, including fear, rejection, derision and ridicule” and “impair self-esteem, help-seeking behaviors, medication adherence and overall recovery.” Stuart blames the media for fueling much of the stereotypes of the mentally ill that persist today.

Springsteen, however, is a living, breathing repudiation of these media-fueled stereotypes…’

Source: The Conversation