For whatever reason, modern society likes to put celebrities to a higher standard than the average human being. For equally confusing reasons, society puts a huge stigma on people suffering from mental illness. Thanks to these two facts, it can be surprising for fans to realize that quite a few of their favorite celebrities have had their struggles with mental illness themselves, and several have even been committed to mental facilities, both voluntarily and involuntarily, to help them deal with their demons.
Only recently has the stigma around mental illness started to fade, as more and more people speak out about their struggles and admit to seeking treatment. As a result, it may seem like celebrities with mental issues is a fairly recent phenomenon, but in fact, plenty of celebrities throughout history have had problems that went undiagnosed or mistreated for years thanks to rudimentary understandings of the human brain. Mental illness is scary and confusing, and seeing it strike down a seemingly put together celebrity can often be so jarring people instead resort to making jokes about them being crazy or deluded into madness by fame, when in fact there is a more clinical and serious root to the situation.
Particularly in pop music culture, there seems to be a belief that mental illness and creativity go hand in hand, and thankfully, overall that really isn’t the case. However, it certainly has been on more than just a couple occasions. If you want to know which of your favorite celebrities took a stop at a mental facility on their way to fame and fortune, read on for a list of 15 celebrities who did just that.
15 Ashley Judd
Ashley Judd is an actress most famous these days for her role in the Divergent film series. She came to prominence in the '90s by starring in acclaimed dramas like Ruby in Paradise, Smoke, and Heat. Her profile as a major film star started to wane in 2004 when she was the lead in the universally panned Twisted, but she’s managed to remain in the public’s good graces through countless charity efforts. She has primarily worked in Africa supporting humanitarian efforts aimed at preventing the spread of AIDS and violence against women throughout poorer and disadvantaged countries where those activities still run rampant to this day.
Ashley is also the daughter and sister of Naomi and Wynonna Judd, and, as she would detail in her autobiography, when they were touring the country, she was left alone as a young child, which made her extremely lonely and depressed. When Wynonna was being treated for an eating disorder, hospital staff noticed it was actually Ashley who was exhibiting the signs of severe depression and bipolar disorder. As a result, she entered herself into a 47-day treatment center for her problems in 2006. She has since disclosed she suffers from bipolar disorder, and now has a “psychological support dog” to help her with her illness.
14 Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe is arguably the name most synonymous with the term “sex symbol” even fifty years after her early death as the result of a suspected suicide. Monroe became a model in the 1940s, and was an extremely successful one at that- after she dyed her naturally brown hair blonde. Her film career stagnated for her first few years in the industry, but after back to back breakthrough roles in John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle and Joseph E. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve, her profile instantly skyrocketed, and it wasn’t long before she was one of the highest profile actresses in Hollywood. Starring roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot, and The Misfits would follow, portraying her wide range as an actress and singer en route to her international superstardom.
Monroe’s life was also constantly filled with personal and mental problems, with her tumultuous personal relationships often overshadowing her talents on the screen. By the time she starred in The Misfits, her life was so out of control her psychoanalyst committed her to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in New York. Monroe was under the impression she was going to receive time alone to rest, but actually was institutionalized in their psych ward. Monroe hated her time there and was released by her then-husband Joe DiMaggio after four days, but her troubles would continue to control her life until she overdosed in 1962.
13 Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is a singer and actress recognized as one of the greatest pop divas of the 1990s. Her self-titled first album was an instant and massive hit, selling over 15 million copies worldwide. Through that success and the success of her subsequent albums, Mariah was the best-selling female artist of the decade. Carey’s film career has been significantly less stellar, with her starring vehicle Glitter being considered one of the worst films of all time. Subsequent films were equally panned until she finally impressed critics with an uncharacteristically dressed down appearance in Precious (based on the novel Push by Sapphire). Her albums don’t sell as well as they used to, but she’s still a very successful musician, and her latest record reached #3 on the Billboard chart.
Part of Mariah’s fall from superstardom was an “emotional and physical breakdown” suffered during the filming of Glitter. In 2001, Mariah was hospitalized at Westchester North Hospital after checking herself in as “emotionally disturbed.” There were also reports she had attempted suicide, but those rumors were ultimately unconfirmed and deemed unlikely. Mariah had been acting erratically in her public appearances at the time, and many were highly concerned for her, but she eventually recovered and continues her successful career to this day.
12 Sinéad O'Connor
Sinéad O’Connor is an oft-controversial Irish alternative pop singer-songwriter. Her first album was called The Lion and the Cobra, and was released to international acclaim, but her true breakthrough came with a cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” on her follow-up, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. She has released 10 albums in total, winning several MTV Awards and a Grammy in the process of doing so. O’Connor is also known for her fiery and confrontational views on religion, international conflicts, women’s rights, and child abuse.
Recently, O’Connor’s controversial life has extended to her entire family, and the way they treat her due to her mental illness. In late 2015, she began making cryptic and confusing Facebook posts about her family and their alleged abandonment of her in light of being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She admitted to attempting suicide at least once, and there have been rumors and speculation it wasn’t a solitary incident. After the Facebook post, her family had her committed to St. Patrick’s Hospital for psychiatric evaluation, which she later claimed was against her will. There have been several incidents since where she has repeatedly been suspected of suicide or other forms of self-harm, but she has always taken to social media and dismissed them shortly thereafter.
11 Robbie Williams
Even with the Boy Band craze of the early 2000s, Robbie Williams never became quite that huge of a star in the United States. However, in his native England, Robbie was the highest profile member of the most successful boy band in UK history, Take That. Williams left Take That after they recorded three extremely successful albums, and started what would eventually become arguably an even more successful solo career in 1996. On his own, Williams is the best selling solo artist in the history of the United Kingdom, and has won a record 17 BRIT Awards.
Like many outrageously successful musicians, Williams struggled with drugs, alcohol, and depression on his way to the top. He has entered rehab on more than one occasion to deal with his drug use, which he said was a result of the depression he’s experienced his entire life. In 2007, Williams checked himself into the Meadows Clinic in Arizona, one of the most intense rehab and psychiatric facilities in the United States. The Meadows Clinic doctors specialize in depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses, looking at the deeper issues that cause drug addiction and offering treatment over simple cold turkey rehabilitation. Williams eventually became self-confident and healthy enough to mend his previously tumultuous relationship with his band mates in Take That, and continues his successful solo career to this day.
10 Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder is an actress who broke through in the late 1980s with films like Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and the cult teen film Heathers. She started to earn serious acclaim for her acting talents throughout the 90s in films like Night On Earth, The Age of Innocence, Little Women and Reality Bites. Ryder has also been part of several high profile relationships that made her a regular feature of tabloids during her fame, most memorably when she broke up with Johnny Depp and forced him to change his “Winona Forever” tattoo. She clearly hasn’t been free of controversy throughout her career, as the relationship with Depp and her highly publicized 2001 arrest for shoplifting made abundantly clear.
One of Ryder’s most famous roles was starring in Girl, Interrupted as Susanna Kaysen, the real-life author of a memoir the film was based on. Ryder was deeply attached to the role and felt it was highly personal, and with good reason: she herself found herself in need of psychiatric care less than a decade earlier. While her career was just beginning, she was set to co-star in The Godfather III, but had to drop out of the film and check herself into a psychiatric hospital instead, claiming she was suffering from anxiety, depression, and exhaustion.
9 Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato is an actress and singer who came to prominence by starring in a series of films on the Disney Channel, starting with Camp Rock. A debut album called Don’t Forget came soon after, and Lovato was already one of America’s fastest rising multifaceted stars when she was only 15. She was soon famous enough to headline her own tour around the country, in addition to making appearances on Disney shows, occasional guest spots on other major artist tours, and to star in a follow-up to Camp Rock. Lovato continues to record and star in films and TV shows despite having suffered personal troubles for the majority of her still young life.
On her rise to the top, one of Lovato’s minor roles was on Grey’s Anatomy as a teenager suffering schizophrenia. Though her own mental problems are quite different from schizophrenia, she’s spent time in mental health treatment facilities in the real world, as well. In addition to her rock star life leading to alcohol and drug use, Lovato was already suffering from bipolar disorder, which influenced her to self-harm and develop bulimia. She was diagnosed after dropping out of a tour with the Jonas Brothers in order to seek treatment, which she did at Timberline Knolls. Lovato is now very open about her struggles with mental illness and often urges young people to speak up and seek treatment rather than ignore it like she tried to do while she was becoming world famous.
8 Catherine Zeta-Jones
Catherine Zeta-Jones is a Welsh actress who earned minor success in her home country by starring in West End musicals, and was about to breakthrough as a major star by appearing as a regular on the sitcom The Darling Buds of May when she decided instead to move to Los Angeles and start a huge career in Hollywood. She quickly became a sex symbol thanks to her roles in The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment, and later earned serious critical acclaim by appearing in Traffic and Chicago. Chicago even earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and major roles in blockbusters like Ocean’s Twelve and Red 2 would follow for the rest of her career.
Although she has managed to be a big star in every medium she tries, Zeta-Jones’ career has numerous notable gaps that might appear curious at first glance. The answer can be found in the fact she suffers from type II bipolar disorder, and has committed herself to mental health facilities on at least two occasions as a result. According to Zeta-Jones, she intends to continue checking herself into facilities throughout her life periodically to ensure her condition remains in control and her mental health remains strong.
7 Margot Kidder
Margot Kidder was an actress known in the early 1970s for appearing in films like Brian De Palma’s Sisters, A Quiet Day in Belfast, and Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx with Gene Wilder. She was proven as a leading lady when she starred in The Great Waldo Pepper with Robert Redford, and she earned her spot in history by co-starring as Lois Lane in Superman. Lane would be the most iconic role of her career, but she continued to be a big star in films like The Amityville Horror and Heartaches. Her career started to decline by the mid-'80s, and in 1996 she suffered a very widely publicized nervous breakdown that more or less ended her career.
Kidder had a tumultuous personal life long before her public breakdown, including high profile relationships with Richard Pryor and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, but it was still completely shocking for fans or hers when she was found homeless, unclean, and without parts of her teeth after having been missing for four days. Just prior to her breakdown, Kidder was working on her memoirs/autobiography, and by her explanation, three years of work were destroyed in an instant when a computer virus erased all of her files. The stress caused her mind to spiral out of control and lead to delusions her ex-husband and the CIA were trying to kill her, causing her to run away and attempt to shed herself of her identity. Her family soon were worried and alerted the police, who eventually found her and brought her to the Olive View Medical Center. Her sister had her transferred to the UCLA Medical Center where she was kept under psychiatric care for five additional days.
6 James Taylor
James Taylor is a hugely successful singer-songwriter with an image as one of the softest rocking, most -laid back people in history. It may come as a surprise to some newer fans of his music, then, that early on in his career he was very much viewed as an angry and depressed young man, speaking out against the establishment. Before that could happen, Taylor found several huge fans in The Beatles, who signed him to Apple Records and released his self-titled debut in 1968. Even with The Beatles backing him, the album wasn’t a huge hit, but his second album Sweet Baby James was the first step to him becoming a superstar, and a big part of that step was the song “Fire and Rain.”
“Fire and Rain” is a soft and pleasant sounding folk song, but the lyrics tell the dark tale of Taylor’s lifelong struggles with addiction and depression. The worst of these addictions was likely his heroin habit, which he later said he was shocked didn’t end his life prematurely. The depression had followed him his entire life, as well, as evidenced by Taylor committing himself to McLean Psychiatric Hospital in Massachusetts when he was 17. Taylor said his time at the hospital was “a lifesaver,” and claims his struggles with mental health are integral to who he is as an artist and a person.
5 Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler is the lead singer of Aerosmith, the group pompous enough to call themselves America’s greatest rock and roll band. Tyler calls himself the “Demon of Screamin,” thanks to his high pitched wails on classic rock staples like “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion,” and “Walk This Way.” Tyler is also credited as a co-writer on the majority of Aerosmith’s big hits, usually alongside guitarist Joe Perry. Collectively, the two of them were once known as The Toxic Twins by tabloids and rock insiders, due to the fact they allegedly consumed more drugs than any other rock stars, even within the drugged-out world they lived in. More recently, Tyler spent two seasons as one of the judges on American Idol and is planning on releasing his first solo album some time in 2016.
Tyler’s continued success shows that even the most drugged out and mentally ill people can recover, as he has spent more than a few trips in both rehab clinics and mental health facilities to seek treatment. Tyler first checked himself in to the McLean Psychiatric Facility in 1986, and stayed sober for slightly over two decades, but relapsed and sought treatment again in 2009. His band mates struggled with addiction with him, and all of them sought treatment in the '80s after seeing his successful recovery. Of course, this also means they were all extra disappointed in him when he was the first and only one to relapse.
4 Roseanne Barr
Roseanne Barr is one of the most iconic comedians of all time. She broke down barriers for women in a loud, confrontational, and bombastic way, and although the press would attempt to denigrate her for her bravery and demands for equal treatment, her lasting success was a step towards equality for women in the entertainment business in general. Her sitcom Roseanne was a massive hit, earning the #1 spot in the ratings during its second season and staying near the top for the rest of its nine year run. Roseanne has since returned to stand-up and also does a great deal of work in political advocacy, including a serious but obviously unsuccessful bid at running for President of the United States in 2012.
Her life in the spotlight has often been controversial and criticized for questionable behavior, but it was actually well before she became a superstar that Roseanne suffered her problems with mental illness. Unlike most of this list, which consists of people with deep-seated issues, Roseanne was the victim of a car accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her injury caused her to change so radically she was institutionalized for several months at Utah State Hospital. Appearing on Norm Macdonald Live in 2014, Roseanne claimed that wasn’t her only stint in a facility, and that she had, in fact, visited them several times.
3 Daniel Johnston
If any one artist on this list is inexorably linked with mental illness, it’s Daniel Johnston. Johnston is a singer-songwriter most famous to most people for designing the "Hi, How Are You" mural in Austin, Texas that was inspired by the cover art to his 1983 album of the same name. The artwork for the album became an iconic image of the '90s by appearing on a shirt constantly worn by Kurt Cobain, and the smiling bullfrog named “Jeremiah the Innocent” is an integral window into Johnston’s work as well as his image. Johnston’s music is lo-fi to an extreme, but fans relate to his extremely personal lyrics detailing his struggles with loneliness, depression, and serious mental illness.
Johnston was a minor name throughout the '80s, gaining a regional following and dozens of hardcore fans after an appearing on MTV’s The Cutting Edge. Johnson performed at an alternative music festival in 1990, and on the way home, a manic episode caused him to believe he was Casper the Friendly Ghost, and he attempted to crash his father’s plane as a result. His father was a former Air Force pilot, and therefore had the skills necessary to safely land the plane despite Daniel’s interference, but Daniel obviously had serious issues, and was committed to a mental hospital as a result. This in no way stopped his career, as a bidding war for his contract ensued while he was committed, and he was signed to Atlantic Records shortly after his first release. The resultant album, Fun, was a commercial failure, and Daniel has spent time in and out of mental health facilities since.
2 Britney Spears
Britney Spears is an internationally famous pop superstar who came to fame in the late '90s as a sultry teenager begging the world to hit her in her debut song and album, …Baby One More Time. Her fame skyrocketed with each subsequent album, and although her film debut Crossroads was universally panned, her records continued to break records as she gained more and more control over her work. At the peak of Britney’s fame, she suffered a massively publicized mental breakdown after the death of her aunt.
After she shaved her head and increasingly fell into drug use, Spears started undergoing psychiatric care, but didn’t always take the medication she was prescribed. More than one incident led to her getting committed to the mental ward at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for brief psychiatric evaluations, with many sources reporting she had been suffering manic episodes for years before finally getting help. During her 2008 stay, her father and lawyer were named as her official conservators, a status they still hold over her to this day. Although still technically controlled by this ruling, Spears is reported to have a significant amount of freedom by this point into her treatments, but there’s no planned end to the conservatorship in sight.
1 Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono is most famous as the wife of John Lennon, and has been enjoying several decades of fame as a musician and artist herself since the late 1960s. Ono’s avant-garde art made her stand out in the constantly changing art scene of the time, and her groundbreaking work is what attracted the Beatle to her as the decade wore on. The two became one of the most high profile celebrity couples in history, and used their celebrity status to stage “Bed-Ins For Peace” and various other humanitarian, peace-positive messages throughout the world. Ono remained a vital musician and artist after John’s murder in 1980, and has recently experienced a career resurgence thanks to indie rock artists collaborating with her for the album Yes I’m A Witch and the two albums of original material that followed.
Ono’s fame may not have reached international or mainstream levels until she married Lennon, but she started to become a star in the art world as early as her college years. She met La Monte Young and John Cage while in her early 20’s, and was married to composer Toshi Ichiyanagi for several years in the late '50s and early '60s. Once the two divorced, Ono was extremely depressed, and moved back in with her parents. Her parents decided she was suffering from clinical depression and had her institutionalized.