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Guest Editorial: Celeb Feud Brought Up Critical Issues

Douglas DeVoe, Executive Director, Ohio Advocates for Mental Health

[Guest editorials are offered on Mental Help Net from time to time. Our intent is to provide a forum for discussion of important issues in Behavioral Health. The opinions expressed by the Guest Editorials are solely those of the authors.]


Recently we’ve all been treated in the tabloids, and tabloid television, to the weird exchange between Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields. Apparently the exchange began with Ms. Shield’s appearing on talk shows to promote her new book Down Came the Rain, about her personal experience with postpartum depression and use of anti-depressants.

Cruise, a Scientologist, apparently referred to Shield’s promoting her use of anti-depressants as irresponsible. Shields responded that "Tom should stick to saving the world from aliens and let women who are experiencing postpartum depression decide what treatment options are best for them."

Granted, the exchange is a bit silly, and many of us wonder why we should care what a couple of movie stars think about any subject. However, in this case it appears that Cruise and Shields have hit on a very real and serious discussion – no matter how juvenile their presentation of the problem.

Shields, courageously and personally described her experience with postpartum depression and her need to seek help. The willingness of celebrities to highlight these personal challenges they face do make it easier for "normal" folks to get treatment. Surely Tom Cruise wouldn’t object (we hope) to Katie Couric’s crusade to promote early detection and treatment for colon cancer.

However, regardless of one’s personal beliefs about Scientology, Cruise does emphasize the very real concern that the treatment for mental illnesses can’t be limited to the search for the perfect pill. Many elements to effective mental health treatment include counseling, therapy, medications, diet, exercise and other tools.

So, we want to extend our gratitude to Brooke Shields for her willingness to expose her life to that light and for encouraging others to get treatment. At the same time we thank Tom Cruise for his exposure of the issue of medications and treatment, and the need for everyone to ask questions about their treatment, particularly medications, and to make intelligent choices for themselves. No one in Hollywood can do that for us. It is always your body, your responsibility and you get to live with the consequences of your decisions. As one of our members states regularly --- It isn’t your fault, but it is YOUR problem.

align=left>Ohio Advocates for Mental Health is a statewide advocacy organization, advocating with and for people with mental illnesses. We have been doing so in Ohio since 1984. OAMH is located in Columbus, Ohio.

Douglas DeVoe
Executive Director
Ohio Advocates for Mental Health
1110 Chambers Rd.
Columbus, OH 43212-1702