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britney-spears-mtv-vma-2007-show.jpgWhat Halliburton of the spirit will win the bidding for the reconstruction of Britney Spears? The pop star was taken to Cedars-Sinai Hospital last night for an evaluation after a bizarre standoff in which she refused to turn over her children to her ex-husband’s bodyguards, per their custody agreement; but, she can’t stay there forever. Could it be Scientology? EST? Joel Osteen? The Dalai Lama? Buddha? Yoga? Oprah? How about a good old, run-of-the-mill therapist?
While various reports state that Britney was “under the influence” during the altercation, TMZ.com’s “well-placed sources” report that “what happened last night is not rooted in drugs, and that of late, her mental state has deteriorated to the point that what happened at her home was not unexpected” and that she is on a “5150 hold,” meaning “there’s evidence she’s a danger to herself or others.” In fact, the same sources have been telling TMZ.com for months that Brit-Brit’s erratic behavior is not due to a drug or alcohol problem, but her increasingly deteriorating mental health.
Unfortunately for Ms. Spears, having a drug and alcohol problem is far more acceptable in this country than having a mental health crisis. According to the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign, nearly two-thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental disorder do not seek treatment due to the stigma surrounding mental health issues. And that doesn’t even take into consideration those who cannot afford treatment due to lack of health insurance.


If it’s so difficult for the typical American to seek out mental health help, imagine being a celebrity with the self- and media-imposed sense of perfection and/or narcissism keeping you from admitting any weakness or illness. Remember in 2000 when Mariah Carey checked herself in to Connecticut’s Silver Hill Hospital for “exhaustion” and became the punch line du jour for the late night comics? Meanwhile, a European acquaintance of mine was recently given three weeks of paid vacation for suffering from job related stress and had no problems telling everyone exactly that.
Sure, Britney’s already the butt of a million and one jokes, but could it be possibly more beneficial to her career to spin her antics as drug-and-alcohol-induced with a spiritual or twelve-step solution rather than a struggle with a mental health disorder? Unfortunately, being a pop star/pop tart battling depression doesn’t quite lend itself to the mystique of a Kurt Vonnegut taking on the “noonday demon.”
Admittedly, I’ll rubberneck at celebrity misfortune with the best of them, but I sincerely want the Britney circus to come to an end. Perhaps with her seemingly level-headed father at her side – who was properly outraged at Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy and that his ex-wife agreed to sell the story, Britney will be able to seek out the help and support that she needs, not just some self-help guru or ephemeral existential plaster. I truly hope she does; to have Britney make a comeback and be as open about her mental health struggles as she has recently been with showing the public her underwear, or lack thereof, would be a tremendous help and inspiration for regular Americans battling depression.

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