Throughout the course of Selena Gomez’s career, the singer and actress has always been open with her fans about her mental health challenges. However, as of early October, although never confirmed by Gomez’s team, the public learned that she voluntarily entered a treatment facility. This was the topic of conversation among media outlets — until another life-changing event occurred in Gomez’s life: losing her famous title of being the celebrity with the most Instagram followers. Within hours of her seeking in-patient treatment, media outlets shifted their attention from concern for the singer and actress’ mental health to a preoccupation with her social media status. Gomez has made the conscious decision to stay off social media since the end of September, which many are blaming as the cause of her Instagram follower decline. However, rather than bringing focus to the widespread issue of mental health awareness, the media’s concentration on the reduction in Gomez’s social media influence highlights an underlying problem within our nation — America is scared to speak about mental health.
While it would be logical to believe that the media is respecting and signifying the importance of Gomez’s right to overcome her medical challenges in private, this does not appear to be the case. By the end of October, a Google search of the celebrity’s name would bring viewers to the top two stories about Gomez regarding her “dethroned” Instagram presence. It was not until much later in the search results that a story actually referenced the mental health condition of the actress.
There are two reasons why stories about Gomez’s mental health record are not receiving more attention. One, the topic of mental health is not appealing to the public eye. It does not gain views, as people in search of celebrity content are often seeking entertainment that provides distraction from their own lives, and immersing themselves in the more serious aspects of the personal lives of celebrities would counteract gaining this temporary relief. Two, mental health has been romanticized and carelessly thrown around in the media to such an extent that its significance is often overlooked, disregarded and forgotten. This is what America’s media has come to, and it is sad.
As of Nov. 1, 144,456,664 people followed Gomez. The World Health Organization claims that mental health will affect 1 in every 4 people around the world. With this data in mind, then approximately 36,114,166 of Gomez’s followers could be suffering and battling mental health disorders themselves. It is not up to Gomez alone to promote mental health awareness. It is the responsibility of media outlets to take the initiative to seriously explore the complexity of mental health disorders and to give a voice to those, like Gomez, that are attempting to improve their mental health in silence. Without the media supporting those affected by mental health challenges, the feared awareness of this concept will continue to loom within American society, and unfortunately, never fully receive the crucial recognition that is deserved.