Hugh Jackman Says Therapy Is Helping Him Cope with Childhood Trauma

Hugh Jackman at a special screening of "The Son" held at Crosby Street Hotel on October 24, 2022 in New York City.

Hugh Jackman at a special screening of "The Son" held at Crosby Street Hotel on October 24, 2022 in New York City.

Photo: Nina Westervelt/Variety via Getty

Hugh Jackman is sharing the progress he’s made with his mental health.

The 54-year-old actor revealed earlier this week that he has been going to therapy to help deal with the unresolved trauma of his mother Grace McNeil leaving when he was 8 years old.

“I just started it recently. It helped me a lot. We all need a village,” he told Who magazine, Today reports, adding that “having someone really smart, who’s a little bit removed from your world, can be really helpful.”

“Most importantly, it’s helping me to be more relational with the people I love in my life, and really understanding and living in their shoes and being clear to be able to see them,” Jackman said.

The star told BBC that he’s given his mental health more care recently after filming The Son, which discusses depression and mental health struggles. Jackman said the film’s producers hired on-set psychiatrists for the cast and crew if they needed to talk. “This was the first time I’d ever seen such a thing on a film,” he said. “And people used it and it was necessary.”

Jackman has spoken at length over the years about his relationship with his mother and the toll it took on his health.

In a 2011 interview with Parade, he shared that he was separated from his mother at 8 years old as she battled with what he later realized was “undiagnosed postnatal depression.” He expressed in the interview that while he was “furious” with his mom at the time, he later “gained an understanding of why Mum did leave… [We] have definitely made our peace, which is important.” Jackson also shared that he and his mother have a “good relationship.”

In 1967, McNeil and the actor’s father, Chris Jackman, moved from England to Australia with his sisters Zoe and Sonya and brothers, Ian and Ralph. A year later, the Tony Award winner was born. When Jackman was 8 years old, his mother left and moved back to England, later taking his sisters with her.

Recalling what it was like when his mother left, Jackson shared in an emotional interview on Australia’s 60 Minutes in 2012, per Today: “I can remember the morning she left, it’s weird the things you pick up. I remember her being in a towel around her head and saying goodbye, must have been the way she said goodbye.”

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Hugh Jackman/Instagram

Hugh Jackman/Instagram

Hugh Jackman and mother Grace McNeil.
Hugh Jackman/Instagram

“As I went off to school, when I came back, there was no one there in the house. The next day there was a telegram from England. Mom was there. And then that was it. I don’t think she thought for a second it would be forever,” he recalled. “I think she thought it was, ‘I just need to get away, and I’ll come back.’ Dad used to pray every night that Mom would come back.”

Jackman echoed similar sentiments in his 2012 cover story with Australian Women’s Weekly.

“The thing I never felt, and I know this might sound strange, I never felt that my mum didn’t love me,” the actor said, per Us Weekly. “I’ve spoken about it at length with her since and I know she was struggling.”

“She was in hospital after I was born suffering from post-natal depression. There wasn’t a support network for her here,” he added.