Miley Cyrus and Stereotypes of the Mentally Ill


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Is Miley Cyrus out of line for making fun of mentally ill people? Image by Decoded Science

Miley Cyrus, Sinead O’Connor and NAMI?

Miley Cyrus made news for her sexualized performance at the VMA awards.  Sinead O’Connor made news by informing Cyrus that she was being “pimped” by the music industry.  But in-between the attention-seeking stunts, Cyrus tweeted comments about  O’Connor’s history of mental illness that have ruffled feathers of those who feel Cyrus went too far.

Miley Cyrus: Mocking Mental Illness

According to FoxNews, Cyrus posted “a tweet which said ‘Before Amanda Bynes… There was…’ accompanied by a screengrab of Sinead’s old Twitter account in which the singer asked for psychiatric help.”

Bynes, an actress who began her career on Nickelodeon, was recently taken involuntarily to a psychiatric facility for setting fire to a driveway in California.

Reporter Lucy Jones for NME wrote, “By implication, Cyrus is saying that because O’Connor has had mental health  problems she is not in a position to comment or hold an opinion. Would she say  the same if O’Connor suffered from a broken leg, or cancer?

National Mental Health Awareness Week: Is Mental Illness Shameful?

National Mental Health Awareness Week is October 6 through 13.  NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness probably didn’t have this type of awareness in mind.

Underlying all the accusations is the notion that mental illness is shameful.  If Cyrus mocks someone like Bynes, who is involuntarily committed, as well as someone like O’Conner, who reportedly asked for psychiatric help, then it is a classic “between a rock and a hard place” dilemma for those with mental illness.

According to NAMI, 17% of people in America, or 13.6 million,  live with a serious mental disorder such as bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, or major depression.  In addition, at least 9.2 million are dually-diagnosed, or suffer from both mental health disorders and addiction.   The cost of serious mental illness to America is 193.2 billion dollars a year. None of these statistics are humorous – and the individuals who suffer from mental illness, and their loved ones, are most likely not amused by the starlet’s tweets.

Miley Cyrus: Does She Need Help?

Is Miley Cyrus, of Hannah Montana fame, also suffering from a mental illness? Some are calling for Cyrus herself to “seek professional help” as Dai Lama tweeted, according to How many in our society today suffer from an addiction to fame and attention? Just turn on a television set, or open a twitter feed, and you’ll see a sample.


Fahy, C. ‘It was a nasty thing to do’: Sinead O’Connor Hits Out at Miley Cyrus AGAIN for Mocking Amanda Bynes’ Mental Breakdown. (2013). MailOnline. Accessed October 4, 2013.

FoxNews. Miley Cyrus Gets Even Nastier with Topless, Crotch Shot Pics. (2013). Accessed October 4, 2013.

NAMI. It’s Time: Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 6-12, 2013. (2013). Accessed October 4, 2013.

Jones, L. Miley Cyrus Mocking Mental Health Is Unacceptable. (2013). Accessed October 4, 2013.

Levy, A. Sinead O’Connor Rebuffs Miley Cyrus Invitation To Meet, Chastises Her For ‘Abuse’ Of Mentally Ill. (2013.) Accessed October 4, 2013.

NAMI. Mental Illness Facts and Numbers. (2013). Accessed October 4, 2013.

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