Celebs Who Were Institutionalized

Despite their wealth, power, and legions of adoring fans, the pressures on stars in Hollywood and beyond can be seriously overwhelming. Taking into consideration an added lack of privacy, perhaps it isn't so surprising that some have had to seek psychiatric help in a hospital when it all became too much to handle. Here's an exhaustive list of celebrities who have had to check in for care.

Sinead O'Connor

In August 2017, Irish singer Sinead O'Connor had family, friends, and fans extremely concerned when she posted a Facebook video describing her suicidal thoughts over the previous two years. Coming on the heels of an incident in which she disappeared in Chicago two months earlier, the video set alarm bells ringing. 

Telling viewers she was living in a motel room in New Jersey, according to The Telegraph, the singer (who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder) was quickly shuttled into a nearby hospital for treatment. 

In September 2017, O'Connor appeared on The Dr. Phil Show, to explain (via USA Today), "What kicked all of this off really was, I had a radical hysterectomy in Ireland two years ago and I lost my mind after that... I became very suicidal. I was a basket case. After the hysterectomy, I was mental."

Carrie Fisher

Prior to her death in 2017, Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher was always very up front about her struggles with drug addiction and mental illness, becoming a noted advocate for less stigmatization of these diseases. 

Fisher, who herself was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1985, was hospitalized multiple times during her lifetime, as People magazine reported after her death. She explained to Diane Sawyer in a 2000 interview (via People), "I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital. I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple — just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully. And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive."

Demi Lovato

Like Fisher, singer Demi Lovata has been refreshingly upfront about her struggles with both mental illness and addiction. After hitting rock bottom in 2010 at 18 years-old, Lovato left her tour with the Jonas Brothers (after a widely-covered violent incident on a private jet) and, as E! Online reported, checked in to a rehab center to receive treatment. 

She remained in treatment for three months, where, according to E! Online, she was diagnosed as bipolar and bulimic. She'd continue to struggle with drug addiction after checking out, but has been sober since 2012 and is now working to raise awareness for mental health issues, telling Elle, "[E]ntering rehab while you're on the Disney Channel, it was kind of like, everything was magnified, in the spotlight. It's quite the headline. And I couldn't get around it. So I thought, you know, I can use this to help others. And that's what I did."

Winona Ryder

Back in 1990, actress Winona Ryder dropped out of a role in The Godfather III and checked herself into a mental hospital to deal with overwhelming anxiety. 

Later, as she was preparing for the 1999 release of her film Girl Interrupted (which takes place in the infamous McClean hospital), Ryder described preparing for her role as the writer Susanna Kaysen to Entertainment Weekly, saying, "I was terrified to play a character who was full of fear and anxiety knowing that I have been full of fear and anxiety, and it's not something that's just past tense for me. It's something you battle with your whole life." 

Ryder also spoke with Diane Sawyer in a candid 20/20 interview in 1999 about dealing with her own emotional struggles and the decision to check in for help, telling Sawyer, "I was scared I might do something stupid... They put me in the psychiatric ward... It was very scary, very real." 

Mariah Carey

Anyone who watched Total Request Live in the early 2000s probably remembers Mariah Carey's very public 2001 meltdown on the show. In addition to this and other bizarre public appearances, as Jezebel details, at the time Carey was also posting rambling messages to her fans via her website, in which she said things like, "So basically all I really want to say is I don't know what's going on with life."

Shortly thereafter in July 2001, as the Daily Mail reported, the singer's mother made a call to police after discovering Carey in extreme mental distress. Carey was quickly checked into Northern Westchester hospital as "emotionally disturbed," though her publicist cited "extreme exhaustion" as the reason. Carey's publicist would later admit to the New York Post that Carey had suffered an "emotional and physical breakdown," and, per a later report from the NYP, Carey was transferred to Silver Hill Mental Hospital in Connecticut. 

As Jezebel exhaustively narrated in 2016, the actual details of what really happened the day Carey was committed are still disputed.

Ashley Judd

In April 2006, People magazine reported that actress Ashley Judd had undergone a 47-day stint in a Texas treatment center to deal with "depression, isolation and co-dependent relationships." Judd described her experiences getting treatment for her issues in a forthcoming interview with Glamour magazine, saying, "Now, even when I'm having a rough day, it's better than my best day before treatment."

Judd later published a 2011 memoir in which she described traumatic early childhood experiences of incest and abuse, and in an appearance on The View, spoke to the detrimental impact that being silenced had had on her. During a 2016 appearance at Tennessee State University, she told the audience (via the Bristol Herald Courier), "I went into that treatment center and I proceeded to fall apart... By the grace of God and the tools they gave me, I have been made new, I have been made whole and I have come back together in a way that is a standard-bearer for my entire family."

Britney Spears

As with Mariah Carey, Britney Spear's breakdown in January 2008 was incredibly well-publicized. In the beginning of the month, as People reported, Spears was held for two days for mental evaluation after becoming hysterical and refusing to pass off her two children to ex-husband Kevin Federline. 

Then, according to The Telegraph, after being deemed a danger to herself, the singer was committed to a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital again on January 30. As the New York Times describes, "For days, Ms. Spears had been behaving bizarrely, speaking in a British accent and driving at breakneck speeds."

People magazine reported that she was released seven days later, despite her psychiatrist's request for an extended 14-day hold. Her father, James Spears, was named as her conservator in February 2008 after she was deemed unable to take care of herself; as of April 2017, Page Six confirmed that he still controls his daughter's finances. 

Yoko Ono

Before meeting John Lennon and getting blamed for breaking up the Beatles, artist Yoko Ono went through a period of clinical depression that landed her in a mental hospital, according to CNN

As The Guardian detailed in 2015, after her first marriage dissolved, Ono's parents had her committed in the early 1960s. A friend, Anthony Cox, got Ono released and the two later married. Ono met Lennon in 1966, and the pair got together in 1968. Cox would then disappear with his and Ono's daughter during a custody battle in 1971. 

Steven Tyler

Back in the 1980s, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler stayed at McLean Hospital's East House during a period in which he was trying to get sober, according to Mental Floss

McLean, the setting of Winona Ryder's aforementioned movie Girl Interrupted, has had a number of famous patients over the years, including poet Sylvia Plath, singer-songwriter Ray Charles, and funk music legend Rick James, who wrote in his 2015 autobiography Glow, "Went off the McLean Hospital outside Boston... I saw my old friend Steven Tyler. He told me he'd been there for a while and dug it completely. He looped happy and healthy and gave me hope that I could get my s**t together."

James Taylor

Another famous McLean patient? Musician James Taylor, who, as Mental Floss notes, checked in during his senior year in high school to  get treatment for depression. He reportedly wrote the song "Knockin' Round the Zoo" about his experiences there. 

In the book Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines: The Life and Music of James Taylorauthor Mark Ribowsky quotes Taylor himself on his time at McLean as a "lifesaver," "a pardon, "a reprieve," "a sort of medical stamp of approval."

Catherine Zeta Jones

The New York Daily News broke the news in April 2011 that actress Catherine Zeta Jones, whose husband Michael Douglas had been battling stage IV throat cancer, had checked into a mental hospital to deal with her bipolar II disorder. Her reps told the media, "After dealing with the stress of the past year, Catherine made the decision to check in to a mental health facility for a brief stay."

An earlier story from the National Enquirer (via NYDN) had suggested that Zeta Jones was staying at Silver Hills in Connecticut under the name "Terrie Kirny."

In 2013, Zeta Jones opened up to The Telegraph about her disease, saying "[Bipolar] is something I have been dealing with for a long time... When you get sideswiped like that [with Douglas's illness] it's an obvious trigger for your balance to be a little bit off — not sleeping, worry, stress. It's a classic trigger...I know I'm not the only person who suffers with it or has to deal with it on a day-to-day basis. So if I've helped anybody by discussing bipolar or depression, that's great."

Mischa Barton

In 2009, actress Mischa Barton ended up involuntarily checked in to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center psychiatric ward after she threatened to kill herself. She told People magazine about the events leading up to her hospitalization in 2013, saying, "It was a full-on breakdown... Straight out of Girl, Interrupted...I was deeply hurt at first, and then I accepted this was time I needed to be away from my family and all the pressure."

In January 2017, the Daily Mail reported that Barton was again taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation after she was found screaming in her West Hollywood backyard, wearing only a shirt and tie. According to Peopleafter her release a day later, Barton revealed that she had been drugged while celebrating her birthday with her friends, and that "[a]fter an overnight stay, I am home and doing well... This is a lesson to all young women out there, be aware of your surroundings."

Amanda Bynes

Former teen actress Amanda Bynes' mental health issues dominated headlines in October 2014, when she was involuntarily committed to a mental facility in Southern California after, per the New York Daily News, "claiming that a 'microchip' in her brain led her to falsely accuse her dad of sexual abuse."

People reported that Bynes was released from the hospital on October 31. And so began her slow road to recovery, which has involved long breaks from social media; enrollment at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles; and the mending of her relationship with her parents. She's said to be doing much better today.

Audra McDonald

Broadway star Audra McDonald bravely came forward in July 2014 to discuss a suicide attempt she made in college at Julliard on ABC's Popcorn with Peter Travers. McDonald explained, "[Juilliard] had a mental health facilitator there, a therapist there and they checked me into a mental health hospital where I was for a month and got me the help I needed."

Julliard held McDonald's spot, even encouraging her to accept a role in a national touring show right after her hospitalization, and she was able to continue with her studies. 

Kanye West

After numerous bizarre Twitter rants and public meltdowns, rapper Kanye West appeared to be on the fast track to some kind of major life event in 2016. Things finally reached a boiling point in November that year, when TMZ reported that he'd been hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation at the the UCLA Medical Center. According to TMZ, his meltdown was the result of his erratic use of prescription medication.

Although he's on the road to recovery, he still courted controversy in 2017, including, as CNN reported, a meeting with then-President-elect Donald J. Trump. For the most part he's been laying low, only surfacing recently in the annual Kardashian family Christmas card shoot. 

Owen Wilson

Owen Wilson cuts a lighthearted figure in films like Zoolander and Wedding Crashers, but on Aug. 26, 2007 he was taken to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica after attempting to commit suicide. The following day, People reported, Wilson released a statement, "I respectfully ask that the media allow me to receive care and heal in private during this difficult time," and sources told the magazine that the actor had previously been in rehab twice. 

He was later transferred to Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, where he remained under supervision until the end of the month. In the years since, Wilson has stayed mum on the topic of his emotional health, as is his right. 

Kendra Wilkinson

Prior to appearing on TV in The Girls Next Door, Playboy playmate Kendra Wilkinson endured her own mental health struggles. In 2010, the New York Daily News reported on the content of her E! True Hollywood Story special in which Wilkinson revealed that her mother checked her into a psychiatric facility after then-15-year-old Wilkinson ingested a "half-dozen or so medications."

Of her time in the hospital, Wilkinson said, "It was crazy in that place... We didn't see daylight. We weren't allowed outside. It was basically a jail, but it was a hospital...I think it made me worse because in my heart I didn't want to change... People were forcing me, and that's something that does not work with me."

Years later, Wilkinson got sober after a cocaine overdose.