Entertainment & Arts

'Mental health not a death sentence' says David Harewood

David Harewood Image copyright PA
Image caption Harewood was the first black actor to play Othello at the National Theatre in 1997

Homeland actor David Harewood has said a breakdown he had early in his career was "beneficial" and helped him to "grow".

The British star, 52, revealed last year he had a breakdown when he was younger and was sectioned as a result.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I recovered to have a fabulous career... I want to stress to people that mental health isn't some kind of death sentence."

"Find help... if I hadn't had support, I'm not sure I'd have pulled through."

'Gaps and holes'

The Supergirl and The Night Manager actor added: "I want to stress... you can make a full recovery."

Harewood explained that "a series of traumatic events" culminated in his breakdown which was "emotional, physical and mental".

While he "made a fairly fast recovery", the actor added: "At no point over the last 30 years has anybody actually sat me down and told me what happened.

"There are so many gaps and holes in the diagnoses of mental health."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ryan Reynolds recently talked about dealing with his anxiety

He said that his illness has "actually been beneficial" to him, adding: "I think I've grown as a result of my problems."

Harewood said that since revealing his illness, "loads of people" from his industry have approached him who have gone through a similar thing.

"Fame is no insulation from mental health issues."

Ryan Reynolds said last week that he suffers from anxiety.

Harewood said he was "amazed at how common it (having mental health problems) is, how normal it is, how widespread it is."

He added: "It's ok to talk about it - particularly men, we're terrible at talking about emotions at the best of times.

"We need to encourage people to talk about when they're stressed or overwhelmed."

David was speaking to BBC Breakfast as Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off. He has also filmed a documentary about mental health which will be shown on the BBC later this year.

Details of organisations which offer advice and support are available at BBC Action Line or you can call for free, at any time, to hear recorded information 0800 066 066.

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