You mentioned The Bell Jar. In the UK, the topic of mental health has gained a lot of press in the last year or so. Do you feel it’s something that deserves more attention?
Yes definitely. There’s so much stigma, I think partly because of the word “crazy” and the way that gets thrown around to mean so many different things. People end up feeling so ashamed. We’re told that we’re not supposed to lose control of our thoughts or mind, and that we’re supposed to be able to “get a grip”. It implies that there’s something you can get a grip of! That everyday language in reference to mental health means that the shame and confusion and pain that people feel when they are losing control is even more difficult. I don’t think we’re compassionate enough about that.
And at some point in their lives everyone experiences poor mental health to some varying degree.
Yes. I’m not going to pretend to understand the pain of somebody who is dealing with a mental health issue, but on a much smaller, different scale I get really overwhelmed all the time about very simple things, and I have irrational thoughts that something can’t be fixed, even if it easily can. But I know how much talking about it – whether that’s with my mom or my best friend – alleviates the worries. I really wish people felt they could be more open.
If you had a sprained wrist, you’d be telling people.
Exactly. I hope The Bell Jar can help conversations about that. It’s so important, and it’s so painful when you hear about tragedies that happen around a mental health condition that could have been fixed. It seems so hard to accept.
The topic of mental health can lead us seamlessly to social media…
Haha yes! I like to think the pure intention with social media is to connect people in a positive way, so when it’s used in that way it’s great. I love Instagram and I look at it all the time, but it’s a deep hole – and it can be vicious! I very happily didn’t have (public) social media accounts for a long time, but I eventually got them for one reason or another. They’re great when you have something to say – like with my work with Save The Children it can be really useful – and also to post about where someone can see one of my films or something like that, but I don’t pretend to be perfect on my Instagram. I use filters but I don’t Photoshop my pictures, and I’m not trying to make anyone jealous or pretending to have any sort of life that I don’t truly have.
Have you ever been asked about your social media following by casting directors?
I’ve heard of it happening but I’ve never had it myself. I don’t think creativity and art and an ability to do something can be judged on something like that. I’m really not concerned about the number I have and I never will be. I don’t worry about things like that.