Former Disney Channel Star Speaks About Mental Health Struggles, Overcoming an Eating Disorder & Battling Depression

In this podcast (episode #289) and blog, I speak with actress and former child star Alyson Stoner about what happens when stardom becomes too much to handle, why she became an advocate for children in the entertainment industry, the dangers of pressuring children from a young age, and how to help children manage stress and pressure.

As Alyson notes, when we are advocating for someone else’s wellbeing, we want to be careful and make sure we are not projecting our own traumas onto their experiences. One of the key ways to heal ourselves and help others is to become aware of what is driving us daily.

Of course, everyone’s mental health experience is so unique, but we can still start somewhere. We can all be a part of transforming mental health in our society, even as we ourselves are healing. 

The thing is, we shouldn’t just de-stigmatize the way we TALK about mental health. We also need to give ourselves and other people REAL space to deal with mental health struggles, even if that means giving them (or ourselves!) time and space to “crash” when things get too much. 

This is especially true in the entertainment industry. The way we place actors, actresses, models and musicians “outside” of everyday society has serious repercussions. We often see them as less relatable and less human, which often leads to a lack of empathy that is underscored by the way they are portrayed by the media. This can affect how an entertainer, who is a very real PERSON, manages their own mental health and human struggles, regardless of their age, and can be especially serious if the star is a young child. 

There is what Alyson calls a serious “toddler to trainwreck pipeline” in the entertainment industry. Young artists are subject to incredibly unique stressors and pressures, including forced or free labor, exploitation and extortion, physical and psychological abuse, rapid “adultification”, public objectification, harmful set conditions, a loss of autonomy, and constant sickness and coercion (including substance abuse). Yet, instead of seeing this as a systemic issue, many people label child stars who act out in response to the stressful conditions they face as “trainwrecks”. Rather than asking these children what is actually going on or giving them the space or tools to manage their mental health, they are labelled as “moody”, “troubled” or “difficult”. Unfortunately, little is done to help these children, which has resulted in a measurable?? industrial complex and years of generational trauma. 

As a society, we need to be careful of making fame, attention and wealth too aspirational, because this can end up hiding the ugly side of the entertainment industry. This creates an environment ripe for apathy, conflict and misunderstanding because we are not truly listening to reality or hearing what people are saying—we only see what we want or are told to see. 

But there is hope! If we shift the way we treat children in the arts and entertainment industry, we can have a ripple effect in other institutions, including sports and academia. We can make the world a safer and more welcoming place for ALL children.

For more on helping children deal with the pressures of life, listen to my podcast with Alyson (episode #289) and check out Alyson’s amazing mental health company, 

To learn more about how to manage your mental health and help others, join me at our 7th Annual Mental Health Solutions Retreat, December 2-4, 2021! The core focus of this conference is to give you simple, practical, applicable, scalable, and scientific solutions to help you take back control of your mental health, help others, and make impactful changes in your community. You will also learn how to manage the day to day stressors of life as well as those acute stressors that blindside us. Our goal is to address your most pressing mental health concerns, help you find answers, and equip you with the knowledge and resources you need to make the change from a life of barely surviving to one where you are thriving. Register today at and save $50!

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Podcast Highlights

2:02 Alyson’s experiences as a child star  

3:06 How becoming famous affected Alyson’s development

3:41 How Alyson uses her experiences to help children in the entertainment industry 

6:12, 9:05 How labels can help us AND hold us back

10:00 Why we all go through mental health struggles

11:16 Why Alyson started her advocacy work 

12:30 The dangers of de-humanizing people in the entertainment industry 

12:50 The “toddler to train wreck” pipeline 

18:44 The dangers of putting fame on a pedestal  

22:40 How Alyson’s experiences as a child star affected her mental health  

23:50 How stress affects everyone in different ways

29:00 How to help children manage their mental health and life’s pressures

37:00 How our experiences change our brain and body and affect our wellbeing

40:00 Why we can’t always control events but we can learn to control our reactions

43:25 The incredible resilience of the human mind

This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional. 

Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact

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