The Rock's Comments About Depression Are A Step In The Right Direction For Conversations Around Mental Health
It's pretty common knowledge that The Rock, well, rocks, but he's just given fans yet another reason to love him. The actor, aka Dwayne Johnson, opened up about why it's so important to talk about mental health during an appearance on ITV chat show Lorraine. During the interview, the The Rock opened up about his depression and shared his thoughts on why men sometimes find it difficult to admit they're feeling "scared or vulnerable".
He told showbiz host Ross King: "Depression doesn’t discriminate and I thought that was an important part of the narrative if I was going to share a little bit of my story of the past."
“Regardless of who you are or what you do for a living or where you come from, it doesn’t discriminate, we all kind of go through it. If I could share a little bit of it and if I could help somebody I’m happy to do it. The key thing that I found was talking about my past in terms of depression. It's the revelation and for us to be OK and embracing… especially us as guys, as men. There’s just a DNA, a wiring in us and a constitution that oftentimes doesn’t let us talk about when we’re scared or vulnerable or things like that."
Studies show that lots of men still suffer in silence when it comes to mental health problems, with a 2016 survey for the Mental Health Foundation finding that over a third of men waited two years or never disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or family member, compared to a quarter of women.
The Rock stated that he is proof that mental health issues can affect anyone, including the most "macho" of men, and demonstrates that there's space for vulnerability and openness within masculinity. Skip to around 1:55 in the clip below to see him in action.
Johnson also shared his thoughts on "toxic masculinity," a set of restrictive cultural norms in Western societies that can be harmful to both men and women. "It’s kind of like what’s been deemed as 'toxic masculinity’'," he said. "You’ve got to talk about it and you’re not alone. I was an only child and I kept that bottled in, deep, deep. It wasn’t good, so [I'm] happy to share my story."
It's not the first time the star has spoken candidly about his mental health. In April he revealed he battled with depression in his teens after witnessing his mother's attempted suicide. "I reached a point where I didn’t want to do a thing or go anywhere. I was crying constantly," he told The Mirror. "She got out of the car on Interstate 65 in Nashville and walked into oncoming traffic. Big rigs and cars were swerving out of the way. I grabbed her and pulled her back on the gravel shoulder of the road. What’s crazy about that suicide attempt is that to this day, she has no recollection of it whatsoever. Probably best she doesn’t."
Johnson received praise on social media fans for highlighting the issue. In response, one Twitter user who thanked him posted: "Stay strong and make sure you’re talking to good people about it. Us men have a tendency to hold it in. No shame in getting help and wanting to be better."
Aside from demonstrating the importance of opening up the discussion around mental health, Johnson is also proof of how illnesses like depression don't have to hold you back. As well as being one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors, he's got a very happy family life, having just welcomed his third daughter, Tiana, with his partner Lauren Hashian. Opening up about supporting his wife during the birth, The Rock said on Lorraine: "I thought this time around with baby Tiana when she was born, it was an incredible experience. I’ve learned that you’ve always got to be supportive, you’ve got to be right there supporting mumma, supporting her with words, I hold hands, I hold legs, I do it all.
"The doctor had said, 'Would you like to watch? Would you like to come down here?' I said, 'No I’m going to stay up here by the head, I’m going to stay by mumma' and then I thought, you know what it’s my daughter and my third one, I said, 'Honey I’ll be right back...' Watching and being part of that process was amazing."
Unfortunately for fans hoping that the action hero and doting dad will be adding President of the United States to his long list of achievements may be disappointed, as he seemed to take a rather light-hearted view of his chances when questioned by King. Asked about how his presidential bid was going, he told the giggling host, "I think it’s coming along good. Why you snickering like that? I’ll become President and come back and fire you. I’ll send you back to Scotland buddy!”
While he might not be serious about a run for the White House, politics could certainly benefit from his inspiring approach to mental health issues.