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Learn English with Selena Gomez. Join us for an enlightening panel discussion featuring Selena Gomez, renowned for her advocacy in mental health awareness. Alongside mental health professionals and fellow advocates, this session dives into the significance of vulnerability, overcoming stigma, and practical coping strategies for mental health challenges. Witness how shared experiences and insights can empower and inspire individuals to seek help and support each other in their mental health journeys.

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Selena Gomez: Opening up about mental health can release a lot of anxiety.

Opening up about mental health can release a lot of anxiety.

Selena Gomez


Dr. Jessica Stern: Hi. Hello, everyone. Wow, I’m just taking a moment to take in this crowd because this is sensational. This is so, so exciting. We are all so thrilled to be here to talk about probably our favorite topic, mental health. We all love it. We’re all passionate about it. And I’m really excited for us to have a conversation about the things that we think are really important to think about and to consider. And we hope that we’ll give you a little bit of food for thought for your own experiences and your own journeys. And we hope we inspire you, maybe give you a laugh or two. And let’s go ahead and get started. I’m going to start off by introducing our very esteemed panelists. I’m Doctor Jessica Stern, and I am moderating. But let me go ahead and introduce these folks. Now, the first panelist, do I need to introduce her? Probably not. I’m going to do it now.

Selena Gomez: Yeah, I’m Selena.

Dr. Jessica Stern: Selena Gomez is one of the most globally and culturally celebrated artists, actors, producers, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists of her generation. Philanthropy and activism have been key pillars of Gomez’s career. Gomez has used her platform to advocate for many important causes, including mental health, where she has been a leading voice in changing the stigma. She is a co-founder of Wonder Mind alongside her mother, Mandy Teefey. Thank you, Selena, for everything that you do.

Selena Gomez: Thank you.

Dr. Jessica Stern: Mandy Teefey is co-founder and CEO of Wonder Mind, as well as executive producer of the Emmy-nominated content 13 Reasons Why and Living Undocumented. She is a patron of women in film and a member of the Producers Guild of America. And her philanthropic endeavors include Alliance for Children’s Rights, Mentoring Youth, Mental Health Rights, and organ donation. Mandy launched Wonder Mind in 2021 with the core strategy to achieve democratization and desegmentation of mental health by launching the world’s first mental health fitness ecosystem, along with Selena. Thank you, Mandy. Next, we have Doctor Cory Yeager, who is a researcher, psychotherapist, and advocate, and author of his new book, How Am I Doing? 40 Conversations to Have with Yourself. Doctor Yeager’s therapeutic practices range from the NBA, NFL, UFL, to an array of entertainment spaces. Cory and his wife have five sons and call Minneapolis home. Thank you, Doctor Yeager, for being here today. And last but not least, we’ve got Solomon Thomas, who is NFL defensive lineman, where he uses his platform to advocate for mental health to break stigma. He is also the co-founder of the defensive line, along with his parents, Chris and Martha. He’s a wonderful advocate for mental health, and I’m so glad he’s here. Just very briefly, I’m Doctor Jessica Stern. I’m a clinical psychologist, speaker, consultant, and founder and CEO of Three Lemons LLC, which does all sorts of speaking and consulting around mental health. I’m also a clinical psychologist and a clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Health. And I am beyond honored to be here to talk about mental health with you all. All right. Now that the interiors are in place, let’s get down to business.

So what we wanted to do and we want to accomplish with this panel is to have a conversation about the aspects of mental health that tend to… we shy away from them. We are maybe a little bit uncomfortable with them. We don’t really know what to say. We know that there’s a ton of mental health stigma. And I think what’s so spectacular about these folks is that they have done an exquisite job in being able to break that stigma and to be able to challenge individuals to think about mental health in a way that is authentic and raw. And so that’s really our goal today, is to have those conversations together and with you guys. And so I wanted to think of different questions that we can talk about that relate to the value systems that we have in this space, in our missions, in the brands that we work with, in the companies that we try to achieve great missions with. And really what we want to do is talk about the gritty, the fun, the interesting, and the entertaining, and make this conversation just really approachable. So let’s get started. Question I have for you to start us off is, how has opening up about your mental health experiences personally and those close to you really changed the way in which you think about mental health and the way in which you engage in conversations in your own life and with the people around you?

Selena Gomez: I guess for me, I have to be honest. I released a documentary and I was terrified to do it. And I went back and forth on whether I’d do it or not. And I think the moment I did that, I felt this insane amount of release because there wasn’t any hiding anymore. There wasn’t just this image that people could see and think, oh, it looks nice. And it was probably one of the hardest moments of my life. So I would say it’s helped release a lot of anxiety of keeping it in, just to let people know I’m having a hard day or I just need a minute.

Dr. Jessica Stern: Selena, I’m curious about what you just said, because I think that’s so powerful. You went back and forth and this felt like maybe a scary decision. What prompted you to decide to do it?

Selena Gomez: Probably… Probably for everyone who’s been in that position, too. I think releasing a song I wrote called “Lose You to Love Me” and I had women coming up to me and single moms and just telling them how… hearing their stories and it just moved me and I felt like I could sacrifice myself so that others can see what it might really be like, I guess.

Dr. Jessica Stern: That’s amazing. Yeah, I think that deserves a pretty significant round of applause. Dr. Corey Yeager: I think there’s something important here that Selena just touched on. And this is the idea that behind the scenes of our lives, there is a ton of adversity that people face. But oftentimes, in this day and age, we have to some degree decontextualized our existence. We see Instagram posts and all the beautiful flash that people have. Solomon is doing great work. Selena, Mandy, doing great work. And we all see that. But behind the scenes, what we don’t get to see is the grind, the adversity, the struggle, the tears, all of those things that go into the existence of being a human, the human condition. So let’s pay attention to contextualizing our lives. And I think that’s what Selena just really touched on, that she gave the opportunity to be vulnerable so we could see some of those other aspects that she works through on a continuous basis, just like all of us. I think that’s really important to point out.

Solomon Thomas: Yeah. Yeah, to answer your question, Doctor Jessica, yeah, being open and honest about my mental health wasn’t something that I always was doing. Like, it took time to get here. Like, I always wasn’t vulnerable, always wasn’t just talking about my deepest, darkest secrets, you know, my really sad emotions. Like, I had to go through a journey. And for me, that journey looked really different. You know, I was raised by two beautiful parents, had an amazing sister who always let me be sensitive and emotional at home. But that was my safe place at the time. But in reality, I was always in the locker room, you know, around football players, around other guys. And there, like, being emotional, being sensitive wasn’t something that was allowed. It wasn’t a safe place. It was rejected. And even to be honest, like, growing up, like, those are things that we made fun of. Like, we made fun of guys for crying. We made fun of guys for being sensitive. So, like, getting into this work was, like, a really hard journey for me. And then after that, like, you hit by a hurricane, and you find out that your sister is really struggling with mental health. And so I’m later in life trying to erase all these things that I’ve learned, all these certain ways I live by, trying to erase this archaic mindset that I live by of being a man, being tough. If I get any feelings, like, suppress them or rub dirt on it, and trying to find a way to help my sister. And by that time, it was too late. And I unfortunately lost my sister to suicide. And I’m hit in this world of mental health. And, you know, it’s taken a storm over me. I don’t know how to handle these emotions. I’m going through this journey of grief. You know, I don’t know how to put my depression and grief and anxiety into words. And I’m just trying to live by every day. And, you know, I had to do the work. I had to go to therapy. You know, I was in a place where my back was against the wall. You know, I felt like I couldn’t go to sleep, felt like I couldn’t wake up, like, was just stuck in a place where I didn’t even know at the time, but I was stuck in suicide ideation. Like, I just didn’t want to be here anymore. But luckily, I went through that work, and I went to therapy. And I learned how to put my emotions into words. I learned how to identify my depression. I learned how to move along and understand that, hey, it’s okay not to be okay. Like, my sister… Thank you. Like, my sister just died by suicide. I’m not supposed to be happy. I’m not supposed to be posting my highlights on Instagram. I’m supposed to be doing the work to find out how I can, you know, be myself again. But being able to get to the strength and get to the place where I could talk about my emotions and open up about these things, it’s truly impacted and changed my life in the biggest way. I feel like I can live an authentic life now. I feel like I can be myself unapologetically. Like, I’ve done the work, and I’ve learned about who I am and learned about how I react in certain situations, how I handle my anxiety, what I need to do to fix that, what I need to do to live with my depression. Like, you know, find out these things. And, you know, it’s connecting with people more than I ever have ever thought I could. Like, you have these conversations, and, like, you talk to these people, and you might not even talk to them directly, but you have a new connection, because we’re all human, and we’re all going through these things. You may never see it, but it’s important to talk about these things, and it’s why I just have so much respect for everyone on this stage, because it’s hard to get here. It’s really hard work, and it’s hard to be able to talk about these things, but it’s needed, because people are struggling, and this world definitely needs more people speaking up.

Dr. Jessica Stern: I am very moved by each one of you. I think it’s so inspiring, so impactful, and as a psychologist who does therapy, I deliver therapy in both individual and group ways, and… the way in which all of you are willing, and not just willing, but excited to be vulnerable, it sounds like a strange word to use with the word vulnerability, but you’re all motivated, inspired to do so, and that’s where all the impact happens, and I salute you all. Thank you for being so honest and open. I think it’s really impactful. Another thing I was thinking about in anticipation of this panel, but I think even struck me now as we’re having this conversation, really palpably is the way in which we change our thinking related to mental health and language, and something I work with in therapy when I’m doing therapy, but I’ve also thought very critically in my own life, in my own experience, is the way in which the narrative and the words that we use around our mental health has changed. So, for instance, it starts off oftentimes for a lot of people with shame, where they find that the ways in which they describe their emotions and their thoughts is couched in shame, or confusion, or guilt, and then hopefully over the course of time, those emotions will build to more and more nuance, and will add a little bit more dimension to our thoughts, and maybe feel a little bit more empowered to talk about our mental health journeys. So, in this vein, I’m curious, how has the way in which you’ve talked about your mental health, both internally in your own minds, and maybe externally with other folks, changed throughout the course of your mental health journey?

Mandy Teefey: I can answer that one. Before I really understood what mental health meant, I always knew that I felt different than other people, and I didn’t understand the feelings that I was having, and so it was just easy to chalk up and go, “Oh, I’m just crazy.” And I didn’t realize that that was negatively affecting me, and so I was like, “Oh, I’m crazy.” And then I have ADHD, which is basically a learning disability, and so I’m stupid. And it really took a long time for me to, once I did that, I was allowing other people to speak to me that way, and so then it becomes my truth, and that’s not the truth of what is going on with someone who has something, you know, going on in the mental health capacity. So, I feel like the language, in general, has always been there. We just now have, like, more access to it, and I feel that it’s been so misguided, even from day one, you know, because in order to understand how we need to speak to each other, we have to understand each other, and until we are willing to not have fear against the unknown, and we are able to just really have these conversations, because, you know, I can say, “Oh, I have ADHD,” or, “I have trauma,” I can tell right away how that person feels about me. Like, if they’re even going to do business with me, they’ll be like, “Oh, we don’t know what we’re going to get with her,” you know, and so partly of what we want to do at Wonder Mind is really kind of change that narrative and really encourage people that don’t have access to resources and to democratize it and destigmatize it so that we can all just, like, flourish into our best, because I’ve always spoken negative with myself, and I had to learn the role. It’s like if I wouldn’t say it to my best friend, I’m not allowed to say it to myself.

Dr. Jessica Stern: Selena, I’m curious about you. With coming out with a documentary, did that change at all, the way that you spoke about mental health and the way that you thought about the language that you used yourself and some of the self-criticism?

Selena Gomez: Yeah, we shot the documentary six years, and it makes me sick to hear the things that I was saying about myself in the beginning. It bums me out, because I… but I think everybody can relate to that feeling, you know. I think, like everyone was sharing, it’s important to speak to yourself with kindness, but I don’t think I really understood that. It’s funny, because all the things I was bitching about then I’m grateful for now. So it’s really ironic, but I’m… I think it has taught me a lot about myself and letting… I mean, it’s weird being able to see myself so long ago saying those things that I would never say to myself now. So, weird.

Dr. Jessica Stern: Yeah. And that perspective, too, is really fascinating, to be able to look back and for all of us to see how the way that we think about ourselves and our experiences changes, and maybe we’re grateful for things now that we weren’t back then. And sometimes that can be pretty cool. That’s awesome. In terms of thinking about these moments where you decided to either open up or share a story or create a foundation, for some people maybe it was a moment in time. Sometimes it was maybe a little bit of accumulation of experiences. I’m curious for each one of you, was there that sort of aha moment, or was it a slow build in terms of when you decided you wanted to start to be a little bit more authentic with your experiences and open up to the world about your mental health?

Mandy Teefey: Yeah. My moment actually came at the beginning of season two on 13 Reasons Why. I was crumbling. Everything was like catching up to me. I had spent all these years investing my energy in avoiding what my problems were by helping other people and like giving all myself away. And I ran out of fuel. And then I said, you know what? You have to practice what you preach. And I called one person, and I got on a plane, and I went to a treatment center, and I stayed there for 30 days. And it was the first time that I had ever had to sit in what and who I was. And it was very scary. It was lovely because you had no cell phone. But like it was like, you know, you go and you like spin this like weird relationship with yourself. And you can see how disconnected you are. And you’re like, I even started trying to navigate. Oh, like, oh, I can help her. And I was like, no, like you have to focus on yourself. And so for me, that was the day. I was having seizures. I was like sad. I was crying every day. I was just like not happy. And I don’t know that I would have made it had I not gone. And I was fortunate enough to go and have the resources for that. And when I was there, some people didn’t have the resources, and they were being asked to leave. And that was like a big marker for me of going, shit, that’s wrong. Like, can I give them my insurance? How can I help them? How can I keep them? Like they’re like talking about suicide. Like how are you going to let them leave? And it was… it struck a chord in me. It’s like we need to really take the time to understand who the world is and run like Wonder Mind looks like from the outside in. So Wonder Mind is all of you. And you tell us what you need. And we navigate that and find that and help find the resources so they can get the need… they can get what they need.

Dr. Jessica Stern: How about you, Selena? Was there a moment where you decided you wanted to talk about your mental health?

Selena Gomez: Oh, my moment. To be honest, I just… I work in the weirdest industry. I just felt like I didn’t fit in. I just… my mom, though, I have to be honest, was very vocal and open about how I was feeling, how she was feeling. And I think we watched Girl Interrupted when I was like 12, and I was like, “Oh, that’s what rehab looks like.” And I was like confused by it. And then we ended up having one of the most honest conversations that we’ve ever had together. And I really appreciated it. And it allowed me to not be scared. But I will say this, you can’t force someone to do it. It’s just not… it doesn’t work. There was a lot of people that cared about me more than I cared about myself that really wanted me to do things I wasn’t ready for. I had to hit my rock bottom, and I had to do it at my time. And it took a couple of tries, but I’d like to thank and hope that I’m in a much better place now.

Dr. Jessica Stern: That’s amazing. So now a question for all of you is what are your… some of your go-to mental fitness tips, the things that keep you fresh, the things that maybe support you when you’re going through a tough time, what are some of your coping strategies, the things that you keep in your toolbox? I am a huge believer in having a well-stocked toolbox that’s going to need to replenish at times. It’s going to need to change through different seasons of our lives. So the toolbox we have now is going to maybe need to change in a couple of years or in the next phase of life. But what are some of the things that you use in your own lives that you feel like are really helpful for you?

Selena Gomez: For me personally, obviously, would be therapy. Sometimes meetings are more impactful for me. And I also am a… like a very deep believer in DBT, which is dialectical behavior therapy. And that’s something that I hold close to me. And a lot of those skills are things I’ve learned, like RAIN, you know, which is recognize and allow your feelings, investigate them, and then nurture yourself. And things like that will kind of re-pop into my head and it’s reassuring. But sometimes I just have to let myself feel it and let it pass.

Dr. Jessica Stern: Yeah. I love that.

Mandy Teefey: If I’m feeling something that I don’t understand or I don’t have a method for, I will sign up for a course. I’ll find one online. And I sometimes complete them. I sometimes don’t. But like I’ll take those courses. And then I also am a huge journal, as you know. I love to like create and write. It just soothes me. I think it gives me like a sense of control. Like I can control this moment with, you know, if something’s going on. And it just like… it centers me and brings me so much peace and helps me find usually the answer that I really need. So, yeah. That’s what I do.

Dr. Corey Yeager: I would say a couple of things. I love the journaling idea. The research tells us one of the two ways that we can really get things off is to talk to someone or to write. Right? It relieves pressure around that issue. Because you can think, if you have a struggle with a significant other, as soon as that struggle ensues and it’s done, what do you do? You oftentimes pick up the phone and call a friend. And you begin to describe to them what you’re struggling with. Well, innately, you know they can’t fix it. You know they can’t fix it. So, why do we call? Because we want to relieve pressure. I want that pressure off of me. I want to talk about this and get it out. The other thing, a tool that I think that is really important, especially as you engage with the things that you already currently have, is in my book, I talk about creating a supreme court in your life. Those three, four, five people that know you well and will be truth tellers. Not just will cosign, but will be truth tellers. So, when I have struggles, I can go to my supreme court and say, all right, so here’s what’s going on. You know me well. I don’t want to BS on this. Tell me what your thoughts are. I think I’m going to do this or I’m considering that. And get that feedback. If you go to three to five people that you’re close to and they give you real feedback, a pattern will emerge. The truth will emerge. More often than not, you already know what the truth is. They just confirm it for you. So, it’s a little thing I think that you can use.

Solomon Thomas: Yeah, I’ll tell you probably the three biggest things I do for my mental health routines is I’m a big into therapy. I’ve talked about it during this talk, like therapy saved my life, and just being able to talk and understand myself. I just think therapy’s great to be aware about yourself and who you are and be mindful, but just you get to know yourself more and more and you talk with someone and someone who’s trained to be able to reflect back with you. And then journaling’s big for me. I’m a big over thinker. I’m always in my head. And like Doc just said, getting things off my head and on a paper helps me kind of go through my day and not worry about those thoughts in my head anymore. And then I’m a big meditator. My life moves very fast, onto the next workout, next training session, rehab, next game. So, I always feel like the day’s coming to me, but when I meditate and I ground myself, I feel like I can then approach the day how I want to approach it. But sometimes saying those three things, like therapy, journaling, and meditating, they are big mental health words that scare some people. And to be honest, you don’t have to do those things to take care of your mental health. Taking care of your mental health can be as simple as getting enough sleep, making sure you’re getting 20 minutes of working out in a day, getting 20 minutes to 60 minutes a day outside of your job so you can kind of reflect, or off your phone so you can be present, making sure you’re getting the right water intake, getting out in the sun. These are all simple ways you can take care of your mental health without having to do these things. Every time you take care of your mental health, it doesn’t have to be a big exertion of emotions. It can be these simple things, like going for a walk. But even past that, just having connectivity, having community around you, having people that love you, having safe places, are all ways I take care of my mental health so I can be present and just approach the day the way I need to.

Dr. Jessica Stern: Obviously, check out Wondermind, Rare Beauty, the Rare Impact Fund, and thank you guys for being here today.

Selena Gomez: Thank you.