General Hospital's Maurice Benard Opens Up About Serious Mental Health Struggles During Pandemic

Content warning: This article contains mentions of mental health challenges and suicidal ideation.

"General Hospital" star Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos) has been very up-front about living with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. His YouTube show, "State of Mind," focuses on mental health, and has helped countless people as he shares his own experiences and interviews guests about what they've gone through and how they cope with whatever issues they might have. He even bonded with former "GH" castmate Tyler Christopher (ex-Nikolas Cassadine) after his DUI arrest, and they discussed his struggle with alcoholism. On July 23, Benard released a special episode in which he heartfully explained in depth how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected his mental health.

He began the video by saying, "The panic attack for me started when the pandemic hit, 'General Hospital' shut down, I wasn't going on my book tour, and my mom and dad moved out of the house, and I had this enormous rush come over me." He started to explain depression and anxiety to viewers who may not have experienced them, and stated, "It's a feeling of being so uncomfortable in your own body. And your mind is taking you over ... your thoughts ... and you can't stop it." 

The actor then took a walk outside, visually showing viewers where he would go to help alleviate his mental anguish during that time. He would walk with headphones listening to music, which wasn't helping, and he was concerned that what was going on in his head wouldn't stop.

Maurice Benard offered words of advice

Maurice Benard continued his walk, explaining he walked every day during the pandemic, crying while doing so. He said that distractions, such as sitting outside and observing nature, as well as meditation, yoga, and exercise, helped him not dwell on his mental state. As he was overcome by his thoughts during that time, he told his son he didn't think he would make it, to which Joshua replied, "Yes you are, dad, because I'm gonna help you through it." He further told viewers that he was relaying his experience because "I want you to know that you can get through it."

He pointed out a tree with a chain hanging from it and emotionally stated, "My thoughts were 'Do I have the guts, or whatever it is, to do it? To end my life?'" He prayed for God to help him, adding, "Obviously it didn't happen, because we have more strength than we know. In that state of mind, nobody is more fragile than I am. And I'm still standing, and I got through it." He cited his success with Emmy awards and his bestselling book that happened after the pandemic, remarking that one gets rewarded after making it through the suffering.

Benard ended the video by saying, "No matter how difficult your life is right now, no matter what you're going through, please, please know that it will pass. You will get through it, and you will be rewarded."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.