Jada Pinkett Smith and daughter Willow share their struggles with mental health, fame and work-life balance. Here’s where to get help.
Willow Smith Revealed she felt at her lowest when she was on the top.
The 17-year-old daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith revealed in a Facebook Watch interview that her mental health suffered so much in the frenzy surrounding her 2010 hit single “Whip My Hair” (when she was just 9-years-old) that she ultimately turned to self-harm.
“I feel like I lost my sanity at one point,” Willow admitted during the“Red Table Talk” discussion with her mother and grandmother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, that streamed on Monday.
Smith said that she felt immense pressure to make more music before she was even 13. “After the tour and the promotion and all that, they wanted me to finish my album,” she said. “I was just like, no, I’m not going to do that. After all of that settled down and it was a kind of lull, I was just listening to a lot of dark music and it was so crazy and I was just plunged into this black hole and I was like cutting myself.”
Her mother, who looked visibly shocked, said she had “no idea” her daughter was suffering in silence. “When were you cutting yourself? I didn’t see that part,” Pinkett Smith asked. “Cutting yourself where?”
“On my wrist,” Willow admitted. “You can’t really see it, but there’s still a little something there. I honestly felt like I was experiencing so much emotional pain but my physical circumstances weren’t reflecting that.”
She’s not alone. One in five teens suffer from a mental health illness, yet only about 4% of the total health care budget is spent on our mental health, according to data from TeenMentalHealth.org. A separate study found that workers are ashamed to talk about their emotional problems at work: researchers found that 85% of workers thought there was still a stigma attached to stress and mental health issues in the workplace. Brave celebrities like Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, Demi Lovato and Oprah, to name a few, have recently come forward with struggles with PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
It’s important to look out for signs like that can trigger depression at work, like feeling like you have no control over your projects; irregular work hours; and workplace harassment. If you feel like your job could be affecting your mental health and wellbeing, it’s important to seek out a trusted colleague, boss, or mentor, and discuss what you can do to lighten the workload, or potentially, find new work.
Smith said she hasn’t self-harmed in five years, and admits she doesn’t talk about it “because it was such a short, weird point in my life. But you have to pull yourself out of it.”
That can be easier said than done, so anyone who does feel the urge to hurt themselves should call this 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) hotline, or visit sites such as the National Alliance on Mental Health.
Pinkett Smith, 46, also opened up about her own struggle with mental health. She acknowledged that raising kids, working on her marriage and co-parenting a stepson caused her to lose sight of her professional aspirations, and ultimately, who she was.
“Giving up my career to raise my children, that was a battle,” she admitted to her daughter and her mother. But the “Girl’s Trip” actress said she finally regained control of her life when she woke up one morning and asked herself simply: “What makes you happy?”
“Literally I had no idea, to the point where I didn’t know how to dress myself. Fashion used to be my thing, and I’m just now starting to pay attention to that again,” she said.
The mom also urged other women to seek help and discuss issues they’re grappling with rather than dismissing them or using prescription drugs and alcohol to mask feelings.
“All these women out here on Xanax, drinking Chardonnay, it saddens me how a lot of women are out here numbing themselves just to survive in a way that they’ve been told they need to be to have happy lives … but are miserable,” she said.
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