‘Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me’ review: Raw unfiltered spotlight on mental health
Selena Gomez in 'Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me'

Don’t let the media’s overzealous coverage of the alleged interpersonal drama between Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber distract you from the fact that one of these people recently put out an impactful documentary. Gomez’s film, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, is a focused and unfiltered look at a six-year period of the singer’s life as she wrestled with mental illness, self-identity, and health issues.

Although Gomez is a well-known public personality, it could be argued that her willingness to use her platform to discuss topics that many women and others in the United States grapple with—often in silence—could serve as a starting point to normalize the conversation around mental health in the country.

Directed by Alek Keshishian, the documentary follows Gomez starting in 2015 in the aftermath of her mental health crisis in the wake of being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Lupus, along with bipolar disorder. The singer and actress takes viewers not only on a journey through her day to day as a performer, but also let’s them see her personal battles behind the scenes as she grapples with her own existential crisis of trying to find purpose.

They see a Gomez who has grown disenchanted with what she sees as the vapid Hollywood reality of glitz and glamor.

Even in the first ten minutes of My Mind & Me, it quickly becomes clear that this is not your usual “famous person” documentary that attempts to paint a larger-than-life picture of its subject. Rather, the film uses the phenomenon of celebritydom to focus on the realities of a society that is alienating for many.

My Mind and Me benefits from the intimate and, at times, uncomfortable moments in its 95-minute run. Gomez narrates snippets of her journal from the six-year span, allowing those who watch to hear her raw musings about life and the purpose of living. Fans of the artist will appreciate that sounds of her songs are interwoven throughout the journey. Yet, even if one is not too knowledgeable about Gomez, a number of provocative themes run throughout the documentary that relate to the wider society beyond aggressive paparazzi.

The main focus is on mental health. The intense pressure Gomez feels weighs her down. Her diagnosis serves as a revelation but not necessarily a relief. She now has to figure out how to function with this new understanding of herself. Given the stigma surrounding mental illness, there’s something to be said about a popular personality refusing to keep her diagnosis a secret like it’s some sort of scarlet letter. We witness Gomez beginning to work with organizations aiming to reach out to those trying to care for their mental health.

This is an important image to see, not only for the actress’s willingness to talk about her illness, but for viewers to watch what can happen when someone can afford proper care. This is also apparent in regard to Gomez’s grueling maintenance of her autoimmune disease.

Witnessing her treatment raises a glaring socio-political problem: Selena Gomez is a wealthy woman who can afford proper healthcare to deal with her issues. There are millions of people across our country who cannot. As much as 25% of the population—millions of Americans—delaying medical help because of the skyrocketing costs of health insurance. Medical bills can’t be paid, and the cost of living is literally rising every day while wages remain stagnant.

A documentary like My Mind & Me shows the benefits of proper treatment, which stands in glaring contrast to the fact that so many people can’t actually access it. This could serve as a conversation starter, and one can hope that Gomez, in her activism to raise awareness, keeps this in mind.

Another theme explored is a less obvious one—the idea of a woman unkempt. Gomez neither pretends to have it all together, nor acts like she’s thriving in the midst of her challenges. It’s not a depressing documentary, but it isn’t one that tries to tie everything up in a neat bow, either. With Gomez willing to show herself undone at times, she challenges the narrative that women have to adhere to respectability politics.

Respectability politics is defined as a set of beliefs holding that conformity to prescribed mainstream standards of appearance and behavior will protect a person who is part of a marginalized group. This is often geared towards Black people, but it can also be applied to women, other communities of color, and LGBTQ people. It’s the idea that if they “act right,” they can avoid oppression in society. With women, it leans on the idea that if they are demure, polished, and constantly searching for the companionship of a man, then they are on the “right track.”

This is often proven to not be the case. There is no way of avoiding sexism, racism, and bigotry by being super “respectful.” In My Mind & Me, Selena shows the different facets of herself, and not all of those sides are neat and put together. Her personal becomes political as she dares to go against the norm of the box society has tried to place her in.

Overall, My Mind & Me is an engrossing watch that doesn’t shy away from topics that have been stigmatized. Fans will be able to see a different side of someone they constantly see and hear, and hopefully everyone will walk away with a spark prompting them to explore the themes in the documentary beyond the screen.

Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is currently streaming on Apple TV+.


Chauncey K. Robinson
Chauncey K. Robinson

Chauncey K. Robinson is an award winning journalist and film critic. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, she has a strong love for storytelling and history. She believes narrative greatly influences the way we see the world, which is why she's all about dissecting and analyzing stories and culture to help inform and empower the people.