Black Celebrities With Mental Illness


By Mo Barnes

Mental illness takes many forms; therefore, the issues those battling mental health face often go unseen.

For some Black celebrities with mental health issues, life is often filled with tragedy and triumphs while engaging in a private and public battle. Following is a list of famous Black celebrities who have battled mental illness.

Michael Jackson

Megastar Michael Jackson was said to have a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which caused a negative pre-occupation with body image. The condition is called Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD) and people who suffer from it often become addicted to cosmetic surgery. Jackson had over 30 cosmetic procedures and died of a drug overdose.

Legendary performer and activist  Nina Simone suffered from bipolar disorder.  The 2004 book, Nina Simone: Break Down and Let It All Out, written by Sylvia Hampton and David Nathan, revealed to the public Simone’s battle with her condition. A portion reads:

“Nina Simone had a reputation in the music industry for being volatile and sometimes difficult to deal with, a characterization with which she strenuously took issue. In 1995, she shot and wounded her neighbor’s son with a pneumatic pistol after his laughter disturbed her concentration. She also fired a gun at a record company executive whom she accused of stealing royalties. It is now recognized that this  ‘difficulty’ was the result of bipolar disorder. Simone reluctantly took medication for her condition from the mid-1960s on. All this was only known to a small group of intimates, and kept out of public view for many years.”

Full list here.

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