Jonah Hill has received plaudits for sharing recently his decision to step back from promoting his films in order to protect his mental health.
After the Superbad star opened up in a public letter he shared on Deadline, saying he had suffered for 20 years from anxiety attacks, which were exacerbated by media appearances and public-facing events, two psychologists told the BBC of the importance of his message for the wider audience.
Dr Sandra Wheatley told the BBC that “somebody who has so much to lose is actually prepared to step back” should be admired.
She said that celebrities were performing constantly whenever they were out in public. “But when they’re offstage, they go back to who they really are. So celebrities have to remember this persona in the media is an impersonation that you have, not you as an individual and that can be hard to balance.”
Consultant psychologist Dr Elena Bailey agreed that celebrities were “very vulnerable” in the public eye, and that stepping back as Hill has done is “self-protective behaviour.”
“This is because the type of attention and feedback and commentary on your life can have a very big impact on your mental health, causing a lot of anxiety, negative thoughts, symptoms of depression,” she said.
Hill is debuting Stutz, a documentary he has made about sessions with his therapist and about mental health in general, at festivals in the fall, but won’t be promoting them at all.
Tom Holland and Ryan Reynolds are just two other stars who have shared their experience of anxiety. Spider-Man star Holland recently announced he was taking a break from social media as he found it “overwhelming.”