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Howie Mandel: No Laughing Matter

Howie Mandel wants to make mental health care as common as dental care

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Whether he’s touring the country as a stand-up comic, filming hidden pranks on his television show Deal With It, or appearing as a judge on America’s Got Talent, Howie Mandel is used to eliciting laughs.

Yet the Canadian-born entertainer gets serious about the need to normalize brain disorders like depression and anxiety, putting them on a par with other medical conditions.

“We take care of our physical health and even our dental health, but we don’t take care of our mental health,” he points out.

In recent years, Mandel has become more vocal about erasing the stigma surrounding depression and other psychological disorders. He talks passionately about the need for more mental health resources in schools and workplaces.

He’s firmly convinced that if better information had been available when he was a kid, he would have been far less likely to develop depression.

“If I had known as a child what I know now, then maybe I wouldn’t have felt so isolated,” Mandel reflects. “And sadly, there hasn’t been a lot of headway made.”

Growing up in a Toronto suburb in the 1960s, Mandel faced frequent ridicule from his classmates. He was the quirky kid with a short attention span and a colossal fear of germs.

When he walked around school with his shoes untied because he didn’t want to touch the dirty laces, for example, he was an object of derision. The teasing left him sad and unsettled. He recognized he was different from his peers, but didn’t understand why. He has said he felt like a misfit at a time when he just wanted to be like everybody else.

In those days before labels and evaluations, the best anyone could say was that he was “suffering from ‘Howie,’” as he puts it.

Now he knows his inability to sit still and pay attention is the result of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He knows his dread of contamination is mysophobia… Click here to read more.

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