Celebrity Mental health

The Dark Side of the Spotlight: How Fame Affects Mental Health

Fame is sought by many and comes with seemingly endless privileges. However, beneath the glitz and glamor, there lies a darker truth – the toll that fame can take on mental health.

The world was shaken by the news of the passing of musician, Sinead O’Connor on July 26, 2023. Throughout her career, O’Conner captivated audiences with her powerful voice, poignant lyrics, and fearless approach to addressing social issues. In addition to her outspoken advocacy, O’Conner also publicly struggled with mental health challenges throughout her life, which impelled the public to outcast her. She eventually was able to speak openly about her childhood trauma, battles with depression, and bipolar disorder.

Shortly after, on July 29, 2023, Angus Cloud (Conor Angus Cloud Hickey), also passed away unexpectedly. Cloud was known and loved widely by younger audiences for his role in HBO’s “Euphoria,” and his passing came as a shock to many. In his interviews, Cloud discussed how demanding and exhausting acting and being recognized in public could be. He also shared his struggles with substance use, and how difficult it is to manage on your own:

“Addiction is serious and a lot of doctors call it a disease, it’s a real thing. People don’t understand it. It’s easy to talk about and it’s easy to say, ‘Just say no.’” Angus Cloud, 2022

Though these two stars lead different lives and faced distinct challenges, they both reveal how being in the public eye changed everything for them, and not for the better. While fame comes with many privileges and opportunities, it also carries an undeniable cost to mental health. The dark side of the spotlight highlights the need for society to support and empathize with individuals in the public eye. In this blog, we delve into the psychological impact of fame on individuals and explore the challenges and vulnerabilities that accompany a life in the spotlight.

Here are four common vulnerabilities that celebrities deal with that can be damaging to their mental health.

  1. Constant Scrutiny: One of the primary ways fame affects mental health is through the unyielding scrutiny that comes with being in the public eye. Celebrities and public figures often face relentless media attention, online criticism, and invasive paparazzi. This constant scrutiny can lead to feelings of vulnerability, anxiety, and paranoia, affecting their self-esteem and overall mental well-being. The pressure to maintain a perfect image can be overwhelming for those in the public eye. The constant demand to look flawless, achieve success, and stay relevant can lead to anxiety, depression, and body image issues.
  2. Loss of Privacy & Loneliness: While fame grants public adoration and recognition, it can also breed an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Celebrities may find it challenging to engage in everyday activities without attracting attention. The isolation from normalcy and the pressure to maintain a perfect image can lead to feelings of alienation. Celebrities experience inability to trust, and often struggle to build authentic connections, amplifying mental health struggles.
  3. Identity Crisis: Fame can blur the lines between one’s public persona and real identity. Many celebrities may feel trapped in a role they must play, leading to an identity crisis. This struggle to remain authentic can create internal conflicts and contribute to mental health challenges, as they feel unable to express their true selves. Additionally, navigating these different worlds can blur the lines between genuine self-worth and external validation. The pressure to constantly perform and maintain fame can result in burnout, further exacerbating mental health problems.
  4. Addiction: The pressure and stress of fame may drive some individuals to use drugs or alcohol to cope, leading to ongoing substance use disorder. The temptation to seek refuge in substances can exacerbate mental health issues and hinder the path of healing and recovery. The fear of public judgment can deter individuals from seeking help, resulting in them suffering silently.

Creating awareness about the mental health challenges faced by celebrities can help reduce stigma and encourage open conversations about seeking help. For those striving for fame, it is essential to recognize the potential impact on mental health and be proactive in establishing healthy coping mechanisms and support systems. Balancing the pursuit of success with self-care and mental well-being is crucial to navigating the complex world of fame while safeguarding one’s mental health. Ultimately, it is vital for society to remember that celebrities, too, are human beings with vulnerabilities and deserve understanding and compassion.

“If there’s one way to save someone, it’s by letting them know you love them. If there’s one way to save yourself, it’s by imagining the eyes of the people who love, even if it’s only the man in the shop down the road who likes you. Somebody whose life would be less without you in it.” Sinead O’Conner, 2014

If you, or a loved one are struggling with mental health, addiction, or suicidality, talk to a mental health professional today. PCI Centers offers dual-diagnosis treatment for those chronically struggling with mental health issues, substance use, or both. Visit https://www.pcicenters.com/dual-diagnosis-treatment/ to learn more.

Call 988 if immediate help is needed, or visit https://988lifeline.org/ for resources on suicide prevention.



1. Gronholm, P. C., & Thornicroft, G. (2022). Impact of celebrity disclosure on mental health-related stigma. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences, 31, e62. https://doi.org/10.1017/S2045796022000488.

2. Lathan S. R. (2009). Celebrities and substance abuse. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center), 22(4), 339–341. https://doi.org/10.1080/08998280.2009.11928552.

3. Gountas, J., Gountas, S., Reeves, R. A. & Moran, L. (2012). Desire for Fame: Scale Development and Association with Personal Goals and Aspirations. Psychology and Marketing, 29(9), 680-689.

4. Warner, A. (2023, Jul 26). Sinead O’Connor: 25 minutes with the most misunderstood woman in
music. CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/music/sinead-oconnor-25-minutes-most-misunderstood-woman-in-music-1.6918689#:~:text=If%20there%27s%20one%20way%20to,less%20without%20you%20in%20it

5. Rodriquez, K. (2022, Feb 15). ‘Euphoria’ Star Angus Cloud Talks ‘Fexi’ in Episode 6, Understanding Addiction, and If He Actually Uses Twitter. Complex. https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/a/karla-rodriguez/angus-cloud-euphoria-season-2-episode-6-interview