British media personality Simon Cowell has shared a health confession, admitting to a hidden battle with his mental health.
The notoriously prickly judge of Britain’s Got Talent admitted he’s “suffered from depression over the years” but thought it was his “character trait” and “something you deal with.”
“I’m not a doctor, I’m not an expert, but in my own way, I’ve started to understand it more and done things myself for my mental health in a positive way,” Cowell, 63, shared on Tom Bryant’s Men In Mind podcast.
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The reality TV judge said his mental health struggles were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, describing it as “the real catalyst”.
“In the very, very, very early stages, some friends of mine got really ill and I’m talking about really ill,” he explained.
“So, I thought, ‘God, if I catch this, maybe the same thing’s going to happen to me, Eric and Lauren.”
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Lauren is Cowell’s partner of 14 years and together they share son Eric, nine. The family spent majority of lockdown in Los Angeles in the US, not going out and testing regularly.
Adding to Cowell’s mental health struggle was fear over Britain’s Got Talent and indecision over whether or not to resume filming.
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“I felt a lot of responsibility at that point… I just didn’t know what was the correct thing to do other than don’t chance it, don’t risk it,” he added.
Cowell did catch Covid, but didn’t suffer any lasting effects.
By the time lockdown lifted Cowell knew he needed professional help with his mental health. He began reading up on it and talking to friends who recommended various things including therapy.
He said he found himself gravitating towards friends who had sought them and by the time his first appointment rolled around, he was feeling apprehensive.
“I made the appointment and I sat down, really embarrassed and I said, ‘Look, I just don’t know where to start.'”
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But it didn’t take long for Cowell to feel as if he’d known the therapist for decades,
“You realise you’re talking to a professional and they don’t judge you, they listen to you,” he said.
Now, for Cowell, therapy is like “going to the gym.”
Cowell is sharing his story to encourage more men to seek help with their mental health. On average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives, according to Beyond Blue.
“There’s nothing to be fearful of and no one’s going to look at you or judge you differently,” he says. “I think particularly men, as a kid especially, it was always, ‘don’t cry… be a man.
“But it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s healthy to almost go the other way.
“We’re not all made of steel and there’s going to be times in our lives where you just need somebody to talk to.”
If you or someone you know is in need of support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Men’s Helpline on 1300 78 99 78. In the event of an emergency dial Triple Zero (000).