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“I think we are better for telling the truth. So again, I am telling my truth,” said Selena Gomez, international actress and recording artist, to the nearly 400 guests at McLean’s 2019 Annual Dinner on September 13 at Boston’s Intercontinental Hotel. Only 27 years old, Gomez captivated the audience with poise and star power suffused with genuine gratitude and humility.
As the 2019 McLean Awardee, Gomez spoke from the heart—thanking the men and women of McLean for their tireless commitment to improving the lives of patients and families impacted by mental illness and then sharing her own personal experience.
At times confident and powerful, at others tremulous and vulnerable, Gomez told the crowd, “Last year I was really suffering mentally and emotionally, and I wasn’t able to stay all buttoned up and together. I wasn’t able to hold the smile—to keep things looking normal. It felt as though pain, anxiety, and fear washed over me all at once, and it was one of the scariest times of my life.”
She sought treatment and felt the relief of a diagnosis. She educated herself, reading everything she could and talking to others who had experienced similarly debilitating bouts of depression and anxiety. Gomez admitted to worrying about being misunderstood or judged harshly for her openness but said it felt right to share her story and is committed to using her voice and global platform to help reduce the stigma associated with a psychiatric diagnosis.
“There is so much guilt and shame surrounding this topic … [but] we do not have to be afraid to speak out,” said Gomez. “I have been given opportunities that have made my life exceptionally beautiful and sweet, and yet I struggle with my own thoughts and feelings … but this doesn’t make me faulty. This doesn’t make me weak. This doesn’t make me less than. This makes me human.”
McLean President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD, spoke to the “ocean of need” for quality mental health care and acknowledged the extraordinary community of researchers, clinicians, staff, donors, and friends who give time, expertise, passion, and support to the hospital.
“Every day, real people reach out to us for care and counsel, often at a frightening or even desperate moment—for themselves or for a loved one,” said Rauch. “This is what we find most moving and motivating—the journey of recovery, better access and better lives—bringing together the best of science and compassion to drive toward the ultimate goals of prevention and cures.”
“I have been given opportunities that have made my life exceptionally beautiful and sweet, and yet I struggle with my own thoughts and feelings … but this doesn’t make me faulty. This doesn’t make me weak. This makes me human.”– Selena Gomez
The McLean Award is given annually to an individual who has substantially raised public awareness and furthered the public’s understanding of behavioral and mental health issues. Previous recipients of the McLean Award are:
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