Jonah Hill and More Stars Who Took Steps to Protect Their Mental Health

Making a documentary about his battle with anxiety made Jonah Hill realize that doing press isn't for him—and he's hardly alone when it comes to stars needing a break from being so out there.

By Natalie Finn Aug 24, 2022 11:00 AMTags
Watch: Jonah Hill Says He's DONE Making Public Appearances

Sometimes, artists have to step back and let the work speak for itself. Because to do otherwise may actually be detrimental to their well-being.

Jonah Hill directed the documentary Stutz, about mental health and the journey he's been on with his therapist to get a handle on the anxiety that noticeably flares up whenever he's obliged to promote a new movie. And the experience made him realize something: Who needs it?

So, the two-time Oscar nominee announced Aug. 17 in an open letter, "You won't see me out there promoting this film, or any of my upcoming films, while I take this important step to protect myself."

"The whole purpose of making this film," he said, "is to give therapy and the tools I've learned in therapy to a wide audience for private use through an entertaining film." Furthermore, he couldn't wait to share the movie "with audiences around the world in the hope that it will help those struggling." Only this time he's not offering up a piece of himself to go with it.

Stars Who Speak Out on Mental Health

"I'm hoping to make it more normal for people to talk and act on this stuff," the actor concluded. "So they can take steps towards feeling better and so that the people in their lives might understand their issues more clearly."

While celebrities have been more open than ever about mental health struggles that not so long ago, even in Hollywood, would have been considered taboo subject matter, erasing the stigma from that conversation is still a work in progress.

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Ironically, the more prominent a voice the person has, the more pressure or expectations there are associated with the work that they do. And doing media appearances—sometimes for months all around the world—is one of those things that is often taken for granted as being part of the deal. You make something, and then you talk about it. You post on social media, you have to accept that random people might say anything back. You win a game, you answer questions. You lose, you still answer questions. Etc.

And Hill isn't alone when it comes to not wanting to be so out there, even if the work that got him there is otherwise going well. Because as making his documentary showed him—and what he hopes to illustrate for other people—is that you can only ignore what's happening on the inside for so long.

Here are some other stars who took steps to prioritize mental health while at the top of their game: 

Shawn Mendes

The "Treat You Better" singer canceled his summer tour in July, ultimately realizing after first postponing a few weeks' worth of dates that he wasn't ready yet for the demands of touring.

"After a few years off the road, I felt like I was ready to dive back in, but that decision was premature," he wrote on social media, "and unfortunately the toll of the road and the pressure has caught up to me and I've hit a breaking point. After speaking with my team and health professionals, I need to take some time to heal and take care of myself and my mental health, first and foremost." 

Chloe Kim

Fresh from repeat gold in the halfpipe at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the athlete told E! News she was taking time off from competition to focus on her mental health—so that when it's time to start gearing up for 2026, the sight of snow doesn't make her sigh (or scream).

"It's just knowing that it could get overwhelming if I just went right back into it into another season," Kim explained. "I'm just basically being a little cautious. I'm just putting myself first and just knowing that I can't handle it right now. I'm taking some time off. I'm going on vacation. It will be good."

Hailey Bieber

The Rhode skincare founder has found therapy to be helpful when it comes to keeping her head in the game, personally and professionally.  

"It's something that I felt not sure of in the beginning," the model said on her YouTube channel in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May. "But the more I've grown my relationship with my therapist, it has been such a game changer for me and it's a space where I feel really safe to be able to talk about what's going on in my mind, say things out loud and feel safe and not feel judged."

She also has set social media boundaries for herself, telling Harper's Bazaar in 2021 that she reserves her scrolling for non-business days. "I had to start doing this thing where I don't go on Instagram Monday through Friday," Bieber explained. "If something needs to be posted, I have somebody who I work with who runs it for me. I had to remove myself."

Katy Perry

The American Idol judge went almost four years between album releases before dropping Witness in June 2017—and when asked what she'd been up to in the interim, she told E!'s Ryan Seacrest at the Grammys that year, "It's called taking care of your mental health."

Reflecting in 2020 on how much she needed that break, she told CBC Radio host Tom Power, "My career was on this trajectory where it was going up-up-up-up-up-up-up, and then I had the smallest shift. It wasn't that huge, maybe, from an outside perspective, but for me it was seismic. It literally kind of broke me in half. I think I had broken up with my boyfriend, who's now my baby daddy-to-be. And then I was excited about flying high off the next record and the record didn't get me high anymore…The validation didn't get me high, and so I just crashed."

But, Perry added, "It was so important for me to be broken, so that I could find my wholeness in a whole different way, and be more dimensional than just living my life like a thirsty pop star all the time."

Naomi Osaka

The two-time Grand Slam champion sent shockwaves through Roland Garros when she informed French Open organizers in 2021 that, just a few months after winning the Australian Open, she wouldn't be sitting down with members of the media during the two-week event in Paris, citing the toll those encounters took on her mental health.

Her polarizing decision—the post-match press conference, win or lose, is usually part of the routine for top players and they get fined for skipping them—threatened to be the talk of the fortnight, so she ended up pulling out of the tournament entirely. But though she later acknowledged she may have handled certain things differently in hindsight, she made the decision based on how she was feeling at that moment.

"Like whatever I feel, I'll say it or do it," she told reporters before the U.S. Open last September. "I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. I think there's a lot of things that I learned to do better. Of course, I don't feel the same situation will happen again."

If there was anything to do differently, she added, "I would say maybe think it through a bit more in the way that, like, I didn't know how big of a deal it would become."

Erin Doherty

After wrapping the role of her lifetime to date, playing Princess Anne on The Crown, Doherty said her mental health "did dip"—leading her to realize she had a different kind of work ahead of her.

"To sit in my own thoughts was a difficult process at first," she told Grazia in 2020 of experiencing such a drastic swing in her schedule, "because you tune in with where your body and your mind and your soul and your spirit are."

"Part of that process is going, 'Right, I really need to look at this, because I don't feel very happy about that,'" she concluded, "or, 'I really haven't addressed these issues that may have been there since childhood.'"

Selena Gomez

The less time spent online, the merrier for Gomez, who sought treatment for her mental health in 2016 after wrapping her Revival World Tour.

"I haven't been on the Internet in 4-and-a-half years," the Only Murders in the Building star said on Good Morning America in April. "It has changed my life completely. I am happier, I am more present, I connect more with people. I understand how powerful the Internet is, and in so many ways it's done the best things for the world. But for me, I get to my news that is actually important I get through people in my life."

Keeping her own accounts at arm's length hasn't deterred her 344 million-and-counting Instagram followers.

Digital Detoxers

And who isn't (or should be) taking a break from social media at any given time? On Aug. 15, Marvel superhero Tom Holland and three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas shared that they needed to get off the apps for their own good.

"I get caught up and I spiral when I read things about me online," Holland explained. "And ultimately, it's very detrimental to my mental state. So, I've decided to take a step back and delete the app." 

And whether their time away proves temporary or so replenishing they decide to stop scrolling long-term, they join a group that includes Cole Sprouse, Margot Robbie, Will Poulter, Ed Sheeran, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Bindi Irwin, Eva Mendes, Camila Cabello and many more who've worked digital detoxes into their wellness regimens over the years.

Serena Williams

The tennis champion, who shared in an August 2022 essay for Vogue that she's evolving away from her sport toward other priorities, said that the key to maintaining her mental equilibrium is setting boundaries and taking time, however brief, for herself alone.

"Mental fitness for me is just really learning to shut down," Williams told Gomez in a conversation for the actress' Wondermind initiative. "And you know I did this years ago, before even mental health was a topic among everyone's mind. It was more just like, alright, I'm shutting myself down today. Just subconsciously, it was something I've always done. And so now that I know that it's so important to just put yourself first, especially mentally, I always have shut-down moments. I have serious boundaries and I don't let anyone cross those boundaries."

Easier said than done, especially now that she's a mom, so she's "still working on it," the athlete admitted.

Dixie D'Amelio

Living so much of her life in the public eye, on purpose, D'Amelio told E! News that her professional content obligations make it all the more important that she keeps the particulars of her relationship with Noah Beck to herself.

Doing so is "much healthier for both of our mental health," she said at the opening of the Social Tourist pop-up in June. "Our relationship is better. It's just so much more fun when you're not worrying, 'Oh my god, wait. You need to like my picture right now,' or because people are saying that we hate each other because we didn't do this or whatever."

She also realized that having a super-harsh reaction to someone's random online comment tends to be an indicator that something is off with her.

"I've seen the difference from when I'm mentally healthy versus not," D'Amelio explained. "When I'm healthy, I could read a comment and it doesn't mean anything to me. But if I read a comment and it freaks me down for three days, I realize that something is going on and I need to look deeper than people are just being mean online."

"I feel like it's a lot of reflecting on yourself and thinking how you're feeling," she concluded, "and it's an important conversation we need to continue having, and it's a journey."