Hallmark Stars Vulnerably Open Up About Mental Health Struggles

Nikki DeLoach

Heavy/Hallmark Nikki DeLoach stars in Hallmark's "The Gift of Peace"

One in five American adults experience mental illness each year — including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and PTSD — but less than half seek treatment for their conditions, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). In addition to urging people to seek out help, one of the goals of Mental Health Awareness Month every May is to ensure that those who are suffering know that mental illness can impact anyone and that they aren’t alone. That’s one of the reasons several Hallmark stars have opened up recently about their own mental health journeys, hoping that their stories may help others.

Multiple Hallmark actresses have vulnerably shared the personal mental health hurdles they’ve faced, from Lacey Chabert revealing that the sudden death of her sister has made it difficult to get out of bed some days to “Ride” star Tiera Skovbye opening up about strategies she’s learned after years of struggling with depression and anxiety. And while Hallmark Channel is known for its happily-ever-after love stories, which may actually help viewers’ moods, the network has begun to incorporate discussions around mental health into its storylines, which has thrilled its stars.

Hallmark Stars Open Up About Mental Health Challenges

Lacey Chabert, Tiera Skovbye

Heavy/GettyHallmark stars Lacey Chabert and Tiera Skovbye

With a successful, decades-long acting career including over 30 Hallmark movies under her belt, and a notoriously sweet disposition, it may seem like Lacey Chabert lives a worry-free life. But on the April 17, 2023, episode of the You Are Beautiful podcast, she shared that the blend of upheaval in the world during the COVID pandemic and the sudden death of her sister Wendy in 2021 has taken a toll on her mental health, causing debilitating bouts of depression and anxiety.

“We’ve had an incredibly blessed life, I don’t forget that for one second, (but) I’ve been filled with fear and terrible anxiety these past couple of years for all the different reasons,” she said, adding, “You grieve on so many different levels and that’s something I never expected or understood.”

Chabert, 40, said one of her coping strategies is to look for beauty each day and to “find the willpower just to keep going until it shows up.”

In December 2022, Chabert also said on the Biscuits & Jam podcast, “Grief is a real journey. There’s been days where it’s unbearable, and then there’s days where you’re okay, and it takes you by surprise sometimes.”

Meanwhile, “Ride” star Tiera Skovbye has been very open about her own struggles with depression and anxiety, sharing details and insights for several years on Instagram. For Mental Health Awareness Month, she recently began posting strategies and insights she’s learned and hopes might help others.

“I am by no means a mental health professional but I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for a long time and I’ve learned a lot about myself and what works to help combat it,” she wrote in her Instagram Stories on May 11.

One tip she gave her fans is to “never trust the way you feel for the first few hours after you wake up.”

“It may sound weird,” she continued, “but sometimes you just wake up in a funk. Maybe you slept bad, or had a bad dream or your blood sugars low. For me, if I woke up feeling off, I used to think that’s how my whole day was gonna go and I’d end up staying trapped in that funk.”

Skovbye, 28, admitted that whenever that used to happen, she would stay in bed, “scrolling my phone, continuing to feed off the feeling.” But over time, she’s learned to get up right away, list the things she’s grateful for and remind herself that “anything is possible for the day.” She also prioritizes doing things that make her feel better, like “eating food, moving my body and getting outside!”

The most important thing to remember, she wrote, is that “you are NEVER alone in your struggles and everyone is facing their own battle, so always be kind!”

Hallmark Stars Have Loved Highlighting Mental Health in Recent Movies

Erin Cahill

HallmarkErin Cahill in Hallmark’s “Hearts in the Game”

Hallmark movies are known for their upbeat nature and happy endings, so much so that they provide an escape for viewers that can be a boon to their mood and mental health, experts say, and the predictability of many of the storylines feeds into that.

Behavioral scientist Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center at Fielding Graduate University, told NBC News, “The human brain loves patterns and the predictability is cognitively rewarding. Those predictable story arcs that draw on the standard patterns we recognize from fairytales offer comfort by presenting life as simple and moralistic.”

Hallmark’s Christmas movies are especially helpful, she said, because during a stressful season, the characters find “simplistic solutions to all those stressors that the holidays can bring — family conflict, isolation or financial pressures” and it can actually help viewers feel more optimistic and resilient.

But all those predictable storylines and happy endings aren’t keeping Hallmark from delving into tougher subject matter these days, including addressing mental health challenges. For instance, the storyline of “Hearts in the Game,” which premiered on April 29, included a major league pitcher coming to grips with the mental health issues associated with him freezing up during the World Series and the fallout from that.

Star Erin Cahill told Pop Culturist she was thrilled to explore the stigma around mental illness in the movie and hopes viewers are inspired to talk openly about their own mental health challenges, saying that “through conversations, all things can be solved.”

“I hope that they take away that it’s not only okay to talk about not being okay, but it’s stronger to talk about it and it’s so important to talk about it,” she said. “I hope people take that away and seek help or do whatever will help them personally. That can be a myriad of things.”

Meanwhile, Nikki DeLoach has been vocal about how much filming “The Gift of Peace,” which premiered in December 2022, helped her heal her own struggles with debilitating grief following the death of her dad. The movie follows a woman who joins a support group after the death of her husband, leaving her feeling faithless and hopeless.

During an interview on San Francisco’s KRON, DeLoach revealed that as the five actors in the group connected and worked through the emotional subject matter of the film, they found themselves processing and healing some of their own personal grief together.

“Something opened up,” she recalled. “Something lightened up inside of me. I began to find some joy again. I began to laugh, I began to start celebrating life again. Like, little by little, I just started inching forward. And we all found that together. So it was just such a beautiful experience of us all being brought together to do this movie, but we were all transformed at the end of it on a very personal level.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, NAMI outlines many free resources offering immediate help for those facing a mental health crisis and has its own hotline, open from Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time at 800-950-NAMI (6264).