“CBS This Morning” prides itself for “putting news back in the morning,” and the trio of Gayle King, Anthony Mason, and Tony Dokoupil do their best to tackle the swiftly-changing headlines that greet each day. This morning, October 23, CBS devoted a full hour of its morning show to the “Stop the Stigma” initiative to raise awareness for mental health dialogue and treatment.

Along with experts and representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other support organizations, the network drew on the personal experiences of Karamo Brown, Cynthia Germanotta, and Jane Pauley, who are people and parents impacted by depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other forms of mental illness.

Each of the featured guests gave unique insights from their journeys to health and hope. CBS deserves credit for devoting much more than a cursory glance for these very personal issues during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Help for all colors

Karamo Brown has a light emanating from his spirit in his work with subjects on the Netflix incarnation of “Queer Eye,” but dark thoughts came over the actor, mentor, and motivator at a very young age.

For Karamo Brown, it felt as if the light of the sun “was getting darker each day,” as a teenager. His faith-filled family encouraged their son to “pray it away,” and Brown does believe there is a place for faith and prayer, but he needed something “in here” (pointing to his core) to relieve the feeling that a tremendous weight was making even the smallest task seem impossible.

Karamo Brown made a commitment to “be better,” but the man who truly takes into the streets with clients on “Queer Eye” saw that mental health support seemed to be only for “rich white people,” and never for those in lower social economic rungs.

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There was a time for Brown when things became so dark that he thought “this is never going to get better.” One of the paths he took that changed that thinking was his work for many years in social services, and his work with LGBTQ youth, a group six times as likely to die from suicide. The habit of setting “daily emotional goals” has been particularly helpful to Karamo Brown, who recently revealed his relationship with his father had been repaired after he came out as gay.

A dipping daughter

Cynthia Germanotta stands shoulder to shoulder with her superstar daughter, Stefani, in advocating for mental health, inclusion, and acceptance through her role in running the Born This Way Foundation. The two are often compared as twins, and Lady Gaga utilizes every moment of her spotlights and platforms to urge those in need to seek help to restore mental health, and for those around them to listen and care.

Stefani Germanotta was born a unique spirit with boundlessly unique gifts, but her mother started to see her “happy and aspirational young girl” become someone who doubted and questioned everything about herself. Lady Gaga has had similar experiences, such as being thrown into a trashcan during her middle school years. Like many parents of her generation, Cynthia Germanotta relied on her own “generational grit to suck it up” as an initial approach.

She understands how coping with mental illness can shift the focus of the family onto one individual and result in guilt for the parent. Germanotta declared that her daughter needed her feelings to be heard and validated, and not necessarily solved. Listening is an essential lifeline that anyone can give. Being open and vulnerable about personal struggles with mental health is also helpful.

An unexpected battle

Jane Pauley is now among the esteemed veteran broadcasters in the CBS stable, hosting “Sunday Morning” each weekend.

In 2001, however, a mental health battle came to her doorstep in a very unexpected way.

The Emmy-winning co-anchor of “Today” and CBS was not aware of any susceptibility or history of mental illness when she was given medication for hives in 2001 that ultimately manifested itself with a genetic vulnerability to bipolar disorder. Jane Pauley was in “pretty serious condition” by the time her husband, Gary Trudeau, was informed. She spent weeks under psychiatric treatment, and her doctor offered a “cover story” of being under treatment for a thyroid condition to her employers.

Jane Pauley knew that the only way to redeem the situation was to talk about it and to let others know that they are not alone. She prefers to defer the word “stigma” from the discussion of mental illness, because the word is a stigma itself, in the journalist’s mind. “We have to fight the stigma with sophistication,” Pauley describes.

Honesty, hope, and open hearts are all something in common for Karamo Brown, Cynthia Germanotta, and Jane Pauley. The struggle in each of their stories with mental illness crosses generations, but their voices for overcoming in mental health struggles will never be silenced.

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