August 19, 2016

By Luna Greenstein

        Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell accepting their Special Recognition Award. 

Last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) held their 2016 Voice Awards. This annual ceremony “honors consumer/peer/family leaders and television and film professionals who educate the public about behavioral health. Through their work and personal stories of resilience, both groups of leaders demonstrate that people with mental and/or substance use disorders can and do recover, lead meaningful lives, and contribute to their communities.”

Among the recipients was celebrity couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. They were presented a Special Recognition Award for their efforts to raise awareness and support the mental health community. They are the perfect representative of this year’s theme: “Strengthening Families Through Hope and Help.” The two have proven the positive impact family can have on the journey to mental health recovery. This power couple somehow manages a healthy marriage, two young kids, successful acting careers, and the heavy spotlight of fame—all while living with mental illness.

Maintaining a healthy marriage as well as a healthy state of mind requires both therapy and treatment, Bell suggests. Her mother taught her at a young age the importance of seeking help if you need it without feeling ashamed or self-conscious about it: “You do better in the gym with a trainer; you don’t figure out how to cook without reading a recipe,” she told E! News. “Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about.”

Both of these actors have been completely open about their own mental health challenges, in an effort to educate their fans. “I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression,” Bell explains in an interview with Sam Jones, “I got on a prescription when I was really young to help with my anxiety and depression and I still take it today and I have no shame in that.”

Bell has spoken often of her husband’s battle with substance abuse and how it has shaped her perspective: “It is a disease… they deserve the attention of a mental health professional, and not the county jail or however else we’re choosing to pretend we’re fixing the problem,” she said in an interview with E! News. Shepard recently disclosed that the root of his addiction was due to trauma from being sexually assaulted when he was seven years old. He is now in recovery and has been sober for 13 years.

Like Shepard and Bell, celebrities in the television and film industry hold a large amount of influence in our society. This award ceremony picks out the people who utilize this influence as a method of igniting change and making a positive impact for those affected by mental illness and substance abuse.

“Let’s work together to find those solutions for each other and cast some light on a dark situation.” – Kristen Bell


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