The actor says he’s trying to provide a more free home environment for his daughters to express their feelings in a way he didn’t have available to him growing up.
After opening up about his struggles with anxiety throughout his life, Ryan Reynolds is crediting his young daughters for inspiring him to talk publicly about his mental health.
Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Reynolds said that “part of my job as a parent is to model behaviors and model what it’s like to be sad and model what it’s like to be anxious, or angry. That there’s space for all these things.”
He said that was something he didn’t get to experience as a child, though the 44-year-old actor was quick to emphasize he’s not faulting his parents for this. “That’s not to say that my parents were neglectful,” he insisted. “But they come from a different generation.”
With a cultural shift in recent years toward being more open and inclusive when it comes to conversations about mental health, Reynolds felt it was important to add his voice to that conversation.
He also said that talking about mental health actually bridges gaps and connects people at a time when they might need to feel that connection more than ever. “I know that when I felt at the absolute bottom it’s usually been because I felt like I was alone in something I was feeling,” he said.
“Other people feel like, ‘Oh, he’s feeling that and so am I,'” he said. “When you talk about it, it kind of sets other people free.”
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“Part of that is to de-stigmatize things and create a conversation around [it],” he explained. That’s the kind of behavior he wants to show his daughters so they feel empowered to do the same as they get older with whatever they may be experiencing.
“A lot of it is just wanting to model certain things for my own kids and model things for anyone who might need to hear it,” Reynolds said of his opening up.
Reynolds talked again about his struggles with anxiety in an Instagram post late last month, which was Mental Health Awareness Month.
“One of the reasons I’m posting this so late is I overschedule myself and important things slip,” he wrote in that post. “And one of the reasons I overschedule myself is my lifelong pal, anxiety.”
“We don’t talk enough about mental health and don’t do enough to destigmatize talking about it,” he concluded his thoughts then. “But, as with this post, better late than never, I hope…”
The star has talked about his struggles with anxiety before, telling Variety in 2017 that he thinks it stems back to his childhood as the youngest of four brothers under a “tough” father.
In 2018, he told The New York Times that he’s experienced a wide array of anxiety over the years, from “the lighthearted ‘I’m anxious about this’ kind of thing, and I’ve been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 people suffer from anxiety worldwide, with anxiety disorders being the most common mental disorders.