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Rethink Mental Illness name their worst celeb mental health gaffes of 2011

Megan Fox and Jeremy Clarkson have been named as the celebs who made the worst mental health gaffes of 2011, by the national charity Rethink Mental Illness.

The charity has released its annual list of the five most offensive comments made about mental illness, by people in the public eye this year, alongside a list of its five ‘mental health heroes’ of 2011.

American actress Megan Fox made the list after telling an Italian magazine she was having a tattoo of Marilyn Monroe removed because she thought the Hollywood icon had mental health problems.

She said: “It is a negative character, as she suffered from personality disorders and was bipolar. I do not want to attract this kind of negative energy in my life."

Rethink Mental Illness CEO Paul Jenkins said: “Fox’s comments are insensitive and reinforce the myth that having an illness such as bipolar disorder is some kind of personal failing or a sign of weakness. I very much doubt Fox would have made a statement like this if Monroe had been affected by a physical illness such as cancer.”

Jeremy Clarkson made number two on the list, after he branded people who commit suicide on railways as ‘very selfish’ and complained about the disruption they cause commuters.

Others on this list included TV presenter, Jameela Jamil, cricket commentator, Geoffrey Boycott and Conservative backbench MP, Philip Davies.

Jenkins said: “Celebrities have a huge influence on our attitudes to all kinds of issues – just look at how Princess Diana single-handedly changed the way we see AIDS. Everyone in the public eye has a duty to arm themselves with the facts about mental illness. Their words carry so much power, it’s vital they avoid reinforcing myths and stereotypes.

“We hope this list will remind everyone that a careless comment or ill-advised joke might not seem like a big deal, but can cause huge pain and upset for millions of people affected by mental illness.”

The charity has also drawn up a list of its ‘mental health heroes’ of the year with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rebecca Front coming top for their frank revelations about their own mental health problems.

Tackling stigma and discrimination is at the heart of Rethink Mental Illness' work. Together with Mind it runs the successful Time to Change campaign.

ENDS

For more information, please contact Rachel Whitehead, Senior Media Relations Officer for Rethink Mental Illness on 0207 840 3138 or 07711805726

Rethink Mental Illness’s gaffes of the year: 2011
 

1. Megan Fox, Actress

Had her tattoo of Marilyn Monroe removed when she discovered the Hollywood icon had mental health problems.

Fox told Italian magazine Amica: "I'm removing it. It is a negative character, as she suffered from personality disorders and was bipolar. I do not want to attract this kind of negative energy in my life."

Rethink Mental Illness CEO Paul Jenkins said: “Fox’s comments are insensitive and reinforce the myth that having an illness such as bipolar disorder is some kind of personal failing or a sign of weakness. I very much doubt Fox would have made a statement like this if Monroe had been affected by a physical illness such as cancer.”

2. Jeremy Clarkson, TV presenter

In December, Clarkson complained in his newspaper column that people who commit suicide on railways cause ‘immense’ disruption for commuters by delaying their journeys.

Jane Harris, associate director of communications for Rethink Mental Illness said: “Criticising people who are such extreme distress that they end their own life, is a new low even for Clarkson. If he feels so strongly about suicide, perhaps he should channel his anger into campaigning for better mental health services, rather than attacking people who may have struggled for many years with a mental illness.

3. Jameela Jamil, TV presenter

Tweeted that Catherine Zeta-Jones’s diagnosis of Bipolar disorder was down to the menopause.

On the day the Hollywood actress revealed to the world she had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, the T4 presenter tweeted: 'Catherine Zeta-Jones has just been admitted to rehab for bipolar disorder. I GUARANTEE it's just the menopause! Makes 40+ crazy.’

Paul Jenkins said: “Although Jamil may have intended this as a joke, it was in very poor taste. People who are brave enough to be open about their mental illness, should be commended, not ridiculed.”

4. Philip Davies, Conservative backbench MP

Said people with a mental illness should work for less than minimum wage.

Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley told the House of Commons in June that people with mental health problems should be able to work for less than minimum wage in order to get a foot in the door of employment because they ‘can’t be as productive’.

Paul Jenkins said: “To suggest that the answer to employment discrimination is to cut the wages of those already facing disadvantage is seriously misguided. His comments are an insult to anybody who has ever had a mental health problem.”

5. Geoffrey Boycott, cricket commentator

Joked in March that cricketer Michael Yardy's depression might have been caused by Boycott's criticism of his bowling.

Paul Jenkins said: “Boycott’s thoughtless and crass comments reveal an out-dated attitude. He seems to be missing the point that depression is a serious illness, it’s not about being a bit stressed at work. The one encouraging thing about the whole incident was how quickly and widely his comments were condemned. It shows that attitudes are shifting, and views like this are becoming much less acceptable.”


 

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