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On May 6, Miss USA Noelia Voigt shared she would resign from her duties to focus on her mental health. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • Miss USA Noelia Voigt announced on May 6 that she’s stepping down from her duties to focus on her mental health.
  • It’s important to recognize the signs your mental health may be declining so you can prioritize your well-being.
  • To care for your mental health, experts recommend eating healthily, getting enough sleep, having a strong support network.
  • Talking with a therapist or other mental health professional can also be helpful during challenging times.

Noelia Voigt, crowned Miss USA in September 2023, announced she is stepping down from her duties to prioritize her mental health.

Voigt shared the news on May 6 in an Instagram post. She is the first Venezuelan American woman to hold the Miss USA title.

“In life, I strongly value the importance of making decisions that feel best for you and your mental health,” she wrote.

“My hope is that I continue to inspire others to be steadfast, prioritize your mental health, advocate for yourself and others by using your voice, and never be afraid of what the future holds, even if it feels uncertain.”

Voigt’s announcement was timely, given that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The Miss USA organization said it supports Voigt’s decision.

“The well-being of our titleholders is a top priority, and we understand her need to prioritize herself at this time,” the organization told HuffPost in a statement.

“The organization is currently reviewing plans for the transition of responsibilities to a successor and an announcement regarding the crowning of the new Miss USA will be coming soon.”

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues impact everyone differently, but being in the spotlight as a public figure or celebrity can be especially challenging.

“Public figures are under constant attention, experience limited privacy, limited independence, and are under relentless scrutiny,” Jennifer Bahrman, PhD, a psychologist with UTHealth Houston, told Healthline.

“They are expected to be perfect, flawless, and often untouchable to the stressors of life. Hence, they are more likely to be discouraged to show vulnerability. While they remain humans who go through the same challenges as non-public figures, they are at greater risk for being scrutinized and experiencing the stigma and discrimination of mental illness that sadly remains the case,” Bahrman explained.

Public figures also tend to have a significant impact on the general public. When celebrities speak out about mental health, they help normalize these discussions for others.

“They can serve in a capacity to normalize that it is not only OK to ask for help when experiencing mental health concerns, but that one is not alone nor immune from being impacted by it,” Bahrman said.

To that end, some public figures may feel like they become an instant spokesperson for anything they speak about publicly.

“Being a spokesperson for mental health is brave, given the stigma that surrounds it, but talking openly about mental health is also important to the process of destigmatizing mental health,” Naomi Torres-Mackie, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital, told Healthline.

“Existing in the public eye can feel like a lot of pressure. Constantly being scrutinized or feeling like your life is not your own can create a great deal of stress, which can negatively impact mental health. The pressure to perform, too, can take a toll on mental well-being.”

There are several factors to take into account when evaluating your mental well-being.

“Look for changes in normal sleep and appetite patterns as well as changes in your ability to concentrate,” Gerard Sanacora, PhD, MD, director of the Yale Depression Research Program at Yale School of Medicine, told Healthline.

“There could some extra level of concern if the changes in concentration are tied to ruminative thinking patterns where it is hard to think about anything but the one issue that is upsetting you.”

Changes in energy or the willingness to socialize with friends and family can also be reason for concern.

In addition, any thoughts questioning the value of life or thoughts that the world may be better without you should be seen as a cause for immediate concern.

“Dramatic changes in any of these areas may mean it is time to take a step back and re-evaluate your current situation and how you are managing the current level of stress you are experiencing,” Sanacora explained.

A major red flag that your mental health may need attention is when your daily functioning starts to decline.

“If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed, neglecting your responsibilities, unable to go to work/school, not enjoying things you used to or withdrawing from social interactions, it may be time to take a step back, pause, and pay attention to your mental health,” Susan Albers, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Healthline.

Other signs your mental health may be worsening include:

  • persistent feelings of sadness
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • difficulty concentrating

“It’s important to listen to your body and mind and not ignore these warning signs. Other clues that your mental health is suffering may come from those around you who express concern,” Albers said.

“Friends and family may pick up on things you don’t see or recognize that you are not yourself. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Prioritizing your mental health means giving yourself the time and attention your deserve each day to start to feel better.

“Start by taking care of the basics, such as healthy eating and getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night,” Albers said.

It’s also important to learn a wide range of coping and stress management skills. This might also include:

“Surrounding yourself with a supportive network of friends and family who understand and respect your needs can be a game changer,” Albers explained.

“If you’re struggling with a specific issue, consider seeking professional help from a therapist. Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it whether you are a public figure or not.”

Although it may seem easier said than done, getting into the habit of putting your well-being first can go a long way.

“Things like sleep, exercise, time with loved ones, and relaxation practices, for example, should be nonnegotiable aspects of your week,” Torres-Mackie recommended. “These forms of self-care are preventive for mental health conditions.”

You might also try to shift your thinking about mental health, which can help you become more accepting of it.

“Understand that mental health is equally as important as your physical health, and it deserves just as much care and attention. If you view mental healthcare as crucial, it becomes easier to prioritize it,” Torres-Mackie said.

Miss USA Noelia Voigt announced she will be stepping down from her duties to focus on her mental health.

Signs you might need to take a step back to prioritize your mental health include changes in appetite or sleep, difficulty concentrating, and persistent feelings of sadness.

Experts suggest adopting healthy eating habits, getting enough sleep, and surrounding yourself with family and friends who support you. You might also talk with a therapist or mental health professional for additional support.