General Hospital Actor Maurice Benard speaks about his struggles with mental illness

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Friday, December 23, 2022
Actor Maurice Benard speaks about his struggles with mental illness
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The mental health crisis is in the spotlight once again following last week's news of the death of DJ Stephen "Twitch" Boss.

The mental health crisis is in the spotlight once again following last week's news of the death of DJ Stephen "tWitch" Boss.

Actor Maurice Benard, who portrays Sonny Corinthos on the hit ABC daytime drama 'General Hospital' knows all too well the effects of mental illness.

"It's an honor; it's been my life," he said.

Benard has been on the show for nearly 30 years and has had his own personal story playing off camera.

"I was diagnosed with Manic Depression when I was 21 years old, was in a mental institution for 2.5 weeks, I escaped the mental institution," he said.

Benard says his diagnosis would have made it impossible to land his first job in 1983, so he kept it relatively private until he received a fan letter a few years later.

WATCH: Death of famous DJ, Stephen 'tWitch' Boss, puts renewed spotlight on suicide prevention

"I did this magazine talking about what happened to me, and this kid read it and sent me a letter saying his brother took a gun and shot himself because he was bipolar and what I put down in the magazine has helped him out," Benard explained.

After publicly disclosing his diagnosis, the writers at General Hospital decided to make Benard's character Sonny bipolar as well. Benard said while it brings attention to the illness, it also has its drawbacks.

"Not only am I bipolar, but now I have to play someone who is bipolar...it's not great for my mental health," he explained.

With the help of medication, Benard hasn't had a manic episode in over 30 years, but like so many, he struggled during the pandemic. He got help after 4 months after battling with anxiety and thoughts of suicide.

"I finally got help and it saved my life," he said.

Now, the daytime Emmy winner is using his celebrity status to shed light on the mental health epidemic by hosting a weekly podcast on YouTube entitled State of Mind.