The talent show judge – responsible for some of the world’s biggest reality TV formats such as Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor – spoke in a new interview about the “super positive effect” of therapy on his life.
The 63-year-old said that Covid-19 was “the real catalyst”, however. Some of his friends became “really ill” in the early stages of the pandemic, leading Cowell’s mental health to deteriorate and him to enter a permanent state of anxiety.
“I didn’t know what was true or not, I just didn’t have a clue other than I was petrified about catching it. Just petrified,” he said.
The family stayed in LA for a year, during which Cowell didn’t “go out” and “didn’t see anybody”, worrying about whether or not his shows should go ahead in the UK.
That same year, he suffered a serious accident while riding an E-bike at his home. Cowell had to undergo intense surgery, which included having a metal rod put in his back to stabilise it.
When things “started to calm down a bit”, Cowell says he felt unprepared to return to “the real world”.
“So, I started to read up about stuff, teach myself. Then fortunately I met some friends who had benefited from therapy. And that’s when I thought, ‘You know what? I’ve kind of looked after my body through diet, and exercise, pretty well over the years, but what have I done about my brain and my mind?’
“And the answer is nothing and now’s the time to do it. So, it was almost like my head going to the gym… I made the appointment and I sat down, really embarrassed and I said, ‘Look, I just don’t know where to start. But within about 20 minutes it was as if I’d known him for 10, 20 years.”
Cowell also sang the praises of his therapist, who he said “put me so much at ease”.
“When I see my friends, the first thing I talk about is how therapy has had this super positive effect on my life,” he said.
“I wish I had done this 10 or 20 years ago… it’s like a weight has lifted off my shoulders.”
If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.