EXCLUSIVE: Kem Cetinay opens up about his struggle with anxiety

"Anxiety feels like the whole world is coming down on you at once – it happens so quick."

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by Arianna Chatzidakis |

Love Island winner Kem Cetinay comes across as a really positive, confident person when shown on our TV screens, but behind-the-scenes, the reality TV star has battled for years with his anxiety and mental health.

Speaking exclusively to heatworld as part of our Where's Your Head At? campaign, Kem revealed that he's been suffering from anxiety since the age of 13.

"When I was around 13, my mum got really unwell. She had an operation that went wrong and they said she had 24 hours to live. It brought up anxiety for me that I’d never had before. Then, [my anxiety] got so bad that I didn’t leave the house for so long," said Kem.

He describes anxiety as feeling "like the whole world is coming down on you at once – it happens so quick. You don’t really know what’s happening, you don’t feel in control."

And it's not just Kem that feels this way: our survey showed that a whopping 56% of people have experienced a mental health issue. That's over half of us!

Watch Kem talking about his anxiety below:

Over the years, Kem has learnt how to manage his anxiety through various techniques: "I first started to use breathing techniques, where I’d breath in for four seconds and breath out for five, and it would distract me from what I was feeling."

He also openly talks about his anxiety to his parents and trained therapists: "My mum knows me better than anyone, but at the same time my dad is a really calming person who chills me out.

"I [also] saw so many amazing therapists, I still contact them now. One lady just local to me worked in a little counselling office - [I] clicked with her from the minute I started working with her. She opened up barriers for me."

The other person Kem talks to when he's feeling anxious is his best pal and fellow Love Islander, Chris Hughes. "When me and Chris met, the first thing we realised was that we both suffered with the same anxiety. We know how to calm each other down."

"I think that having a close person to you [like Chris makes] you feel so much more safe and at home, because being in this industry, you feel lost." Aww.

As Kem puts it, talking openly about mental health is something that's an important and helpful coping mechanism: "Our mental health is as important as our physical health, and this is why I’m supporting the Where's Your Head At? campaign to get a mental health first aider in every college or workplace. So please make sure you sign the petition," said Kem.

Where’s Your Head At? is a campaign that will improve the mental health of the nation by ensuring employers look after the wellbeing of their workforce. We want to make it easy for you to talk about your mental health at work, by ensuring that there are trained colleagues on-site who know how to point you in the direction of any help you might need.

We need YOUR help to make it a legal requirement to have a trained mental health first aider in every workplace or college. Please sign our petition at wheresyourheadat.org and use the hashtag #WheresYourHeadAt to support the campaign.

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