Howie Mandel Promotes Mental Health Awareness

In an interview with ADDitude magazine Howie Mandel opens up about mental health awareness and how he became public about his obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
ADHD Parenting Blog |

"It’s easy for someone in a big corporate arena to get up and say, ‘Hey, I have to go to the dentist, but it’s hard to get up and say I’m going to a psychiatrist, or a therapist.’"

Comedian Howie Mandel

In our recent interview, Howie Mandel spoke passionately and articulately about the stigma attached to having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or any condition that falls into the whole “mental health” category. Here’s what he had to say:

“After I impulsively revealed that I have OCD on a talk show, I was devastated. But when I eventually emerged into public that day, I was approached by all kinds of people saying, ‘Me too.’ Those were two of the most comforting words I’ve ever heard. Whatever you deal with in life, you’re overwhelmed with feelings of being alone. Well, you’re not, and I wasn’t from that day forward.

"Now, I’m a big proponent of mental health awareness. I don’t think there’s anyone alive who doesn’t have issues, whether its relationship issues, job stress, or something else. We take care of our dental health, but not our mental health. We go to the dentist for x-rays when there’s no issue — when we feel perfect. But we don’t get a mental health check-up, because there’s a stigma involved. It’s easy for someone in a big corporate arena to get up and say, ‘Hey, I have to go to the dentist, but it’s hard to get up and say I’m going to a psychiatrist, or a therapist.’ "And, take health insurance — they pay a bigger percentage for a diagnosed physiological problem than a psychological one — that alone tells you that there is a stigma. Being open about it in articles like this, and my book, may chip away at it, but [the stigma is] certainly very strong, and still there.”

Well said, Howie!

How much stigma do you believe is attached to having ADHD or the co-existing conditions that commonly accompany it — OCD, anxiety, or depression?

I know that adults with ADHD are sometimes cautious about revealing that they have the disorder. For example, adult ADHD blogger Jane D. writes about being afraid to tell her boyfriend that she deals with the condition. And, adults often struggle with whether or not to tell their employers that they have ADHD. I can certainly understand that. No one wants a friend, employer — anyone, really — to learn that they have a certain diagnosis, and to look at them differently because of it.

But, here I am — outing my own child’s ADHD on the Internet! Some parents would rather die than let that particular cat roam around freely. I do so, hoping that by talking about ADHD as if it’s a pretty common thing, with no shame or embarrassment attached, it will become exactly that. That’s my dream for the world my daughter Natalie lives in today, and the one she’ll live in as a teenager and an adult.

What can you do to help raise mental health awareness, and erase the stigma associated with ADHD? Has your child ever suffered the consequences of stigma? Please share your comments about raising mental health awareness below.

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