To talk openly and honestly about mental health in any capacity, we have to destigmatize it. We need to become unafraid to talk about it; we need to rid the field of its taboo. The artists on this list are making moves in the right direction by doing just that. Read on, you might learn something.
Gerard Way has always been an open book when it comes to mental difference, both as a solo artist and back in his My Chemical Romance days. On his 2014 album Hesitant Alien, there are a few moments where Way reflects on mental illness. During a Reddit AMA last year, Gerard said his song "Maya the Psychic" deals with the topic directly: It's a theme he carries to the live show format, always intro'ing the song with, "Mental illness used to be a taboo and now it's not anymore, at least, I feel like it's not. I'm glad about that. I wrote this next song about mental illness." For him, the songs speak volumes.
Halsey is fearless, never shying away from an opportunity to tell it like it is. That extends to her own mental difference: The up-and-coming pop sensation has bipolar disorder, which she speaks openly about. "You wonder things like, ‘Am I ever going to be able to be a mom?’ I never wanted to be a cop, but now that’s something I can never be," she told Nylon in an interview. "I can’t carry a weapon.... Knowing that I couldn’t do something because of this, even though it wasn’t directly crippling me, was horrifying.” The power here is that she's unafraid to share the darkest corners of her mind, so she can learn to find the light. Read more about that here.
5 Seconds of Summer have grown up a lot in the last year and some change. Their debut album hit No. 1 and put these silly Aussie boys on the pop music map...but it was very much a straightforward pop-punk rock album, one preoccupied with unrequited crushes and other adolescent issues. Their second, Sounds Good Feels Good, is a shade more mature: It addresses depression and anxiety in a way that is unapologetic. Drummer Ashton Irwin tells Billboard:
"Look at top 40 radio. No one is writing music that highlights what everyone is scared to talk about -- which is that everyone is sick and depressed these days. People our age, we all feel like shit about ourselves. We wake up and we look at our phones and there are a thousand opinions on who we are -- or what we are. It’s destructive.”
It's something that hits close to home. Earlier this year guitarist Michael Clifford discussed his own battle with mental illness on stage (there's still speculation over the seriousness of the message) which sparked a worldwide conversation. Read about that here.
Twenty One Pilots are pretty positive dudes, so it comes as no surprise that their comments on mental health would veer towards the good in people. When asked what they do to "impress their peers," drummer Josh Dun said:
"I think more than trying to impress people, I get more pleasure out of making somebody laugh. So when you’re hanging out with your friends, laughter is important to life. If you can say something that’s funny or do something that’s ridiculous, it’ll make people laugh. So many people struggle with dark thoughts, depression, and internal pain. I’m not an expert on it, but I know that if I’m ever feeling down, if someone can make me laugh, it really is a cure to those thoughts. So just making someone laugh."
There you have it!
Not only is Demi Lovato super open about mental health, she's even launched a charity campaign with five organizations focused on the topic. That's dedication! She told People, "I'm living well with my mental illness—I am actually functioning like a very happy person would. I couldn't be happier today. Life is really, really great. I have a brand new puppy and I'm able to not only take care of myself but take care of him as well. I'm living my dream. Life is pretty amazing." It's a brave sentiment.
Actor Jared Padalecki has a long history of speaking about his depression. In one particularly powerful interview, the star told Variety:
"I, for a long time, have been passionate about people dealing with mental illness and struggling with depression, or addiction, or having suicidal thoughts...I say constantly that there’s no shame in dealing with these things. There's no shame in having to fight every day, but fighting every day, and presumably, if you're still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war. You're here...You might not win every battle. There are going to be some really tough days. There might be several tough times in any given single day, but hopefully, this will help somebody to think, 'This isn’t easy; it is a fight, but I’m going to keep fighting'... Even if there are a thousand small fights, even if every other minute you’re thinking about suicide, or depression, or addiction, or if you have mental illness, I want people to hit it head on and take action. And to be proud that they’re winning their fight, period."
This is vintage Kanye West, but it doesn't make his words any less meaningful. In 2010, at a Los Angeles screening of his Runaway film, Yeezy told the audience abruptly, "There were times that I contemplated suicide. I will not give up on life again. There's so many people that will never get the chance to have their voice heard. I do it for them." Simple, direct, powerful.
He might not be a household name to you, but that's about to change. YouTube star Jack Harries talks about the stigma surrounding mental health with,
"Now, the stigma surrounding mental health isn’t surprising—at all. A mental illness generally suggests that something is wrong with the brain. Our brain is our control center. It’s responsible for everything we do, and the idea of something being wrong with the brain generally suggests that we’re out of control. And as humans we hate that idea. We hate it so much that we just don’t talk about it. We sweep it under the rug and pretend that it’s not there. But it is. Mental illnesses are a thing. They’re real, and they’re very present. And we need to talk about them.”
We couldn't have said it better.
It's hard to believe Beyoncé has ever had a low point—at this point in pop history, she's seen as, like, a total goddess. After Destiny's Child disbanded, even Queen B went through a moment of depression, telling Parade Magazine:
"Now that I was famous, I was afraid I'd never find somebody again to love me for me. I was afraid of making new friends. Then one day my mom said, 'Why do you think a person wouldn't love you? Don't you know how smart and sweet and beautiful you are?' That's when I decided I only have two choices: I can give up, or I can go on."
She went on. There's a lot to learn here.
It's common knowledge by now that Sia's smash hit "Chandelier," deals with her social anxiety, but it turns out the Australian pop sensation has been battling depression for a while now. She told Dateline:
"The last couple of years have just been, since I made the decision to just take care of my own sanity and serenity and stuff, my life has just improved so much and I’m honestly surprised that things are working out so well for me."
"“[Long pause] It’s odd. When we wrote ‘Suicide Season’, we weren’t writing lyrics to try and help people or get anyone through anything but the amount of people who have come up to me since and said a particular song has helped them through something or kept them alive. It’s weird to hear that, because it’s all from my personal experience.”
When asked if music helps him personally, he says:
"I think it does. Maybe not when we’re recording but playing live, definitely. I’m not an angry person, but all the things I scream about, if I didn’t get to scream about them every day as a release, I don’t know where all that anger would go or what sort of person I’d be. Even on Warped, all the partying we do, there’s never a point in my day when I’m happier than when I’m onstage.”
It might not be totally direct, but it's enough.
"My mom takes me to a child psychologist and I'm bouncing around the room...the guy leaves the room for twenty minutes and comes back and says, 'You have a very strong case of ADHD.' I'm like, 'Cool, what's that?' They put me on medication and I took that for about a year. It freaked me out. I didn't like who I'd become. It's not like this for everybody but for me it was like, 'I'm inside this body and I'm watching myself behave a certain way and there's nothing I can do about it.' It was terrifying. It scared the shit out of me...I took them again for like six months when the band started getting a lot bigger, started touring. I remember being in the hotel, taking all the pills, I had 60-count of each and thinking, 'I'm done. I can't do it. I would rather be myself and cope with this than just numb this.' It took a while for me to understand that. It definitely effects everything I do. It's not like it's a detriment to anything I do by any means. Everyone has moments where they bounce around and multitask."
In November 2015, Justin Bieber graced the cover of English publication the NME. He was all over every magazine those days, but this one felt especially important...because he detailed depression. He said:
"I just want people to know I’m human. I’m struggling just to get through the days. I think a lot of people are. You get lonely, you know, when you’re on the road. People see the glam and the amazing stuff, but they don’t know the other side. This life can rip you apart.”
He later used Amy Winehouse as an example, adding:
"I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary [Amy] on the plane and I had tears in my eyes because I could see what the media was doing to her, how they were treating her. People thought it was funny to poke her when she was at rock bottom, to keep pushing her down until she had no more of herself. And that’s what they were trying to do to me."
"I have suffered from both for long periods of time. I think one thing I would say is that I was never diagnosed for anxiety, which I’ve definitely suffered from for close to a decade. I wouldn't recommend going on medication, personally, but I would recommend getting help with counseling to see what the root of your problem is."
"This question reminds me of something that I had on TV a few months ago. It was a guy on the news and he said, 'I'd always wanted to be happy my whole life and so I chose to be.' And that just seemed so simple, but it was very profound for me, that you decide to be happy; it doesn’t just happen to you."
While visiting LA's Power 106 radio station on The Cruz Show, Iggy Azalea was asked about being the receiving end of a lot of hate. She took it to heart, revealing that she had suicidal thoughts in 2015:
"Sometimes I did. Sometimes I would drive through the canyons to get to my horses and I’d be like, ‘What if I just kept driving off the canyon?’ Sometimes I would feel like that.”
The former Prison Break star Wentworth Miller posted a lengthy note on Facebook outlining his ongoing battle with depression. The post arrived after Miller retired from acting and faced immense cyberbullying for putting on weight. He admitted to being suicidal, writing:
"Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time.
This one, however, stands out from the rest.
In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I was suicidal.
This is a subject I've since written about, spoken about, shared about. But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do.
The extent of my struggle known to very, very few. Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods.
And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time. I've struggled with depression since childhood.
It's a battle that's cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.
In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through.
There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.
And I put on weight. Big fucking deal.
One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling.
They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career.
"Hunk To Chunk." "Fit To Flab." Etc.
My mother has one of those "friends" who's always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned.
In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.
Long story short, I survived.
So do those pictures.
I'm glad. Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle.
My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.
Anyway. Still. Despite.
The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.
Of myself and others
If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They're waiting to hear from you. Much love. - W.M. #koalas #inneractivist #prisonbroken www.afsp.org www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org www.afsp.org www.afsp.org"
The actress, who plays the overachiever of the Pretty Little Liars' friend group (eventually leading to a pill addiction) spoke to Seventeen Magazine about her own anxiety and insecurities:
“I started self-harming when I was a junior. I would withhold food or withhold going out with my friends, based on how well I did that day in school.…I didn’t know what was right and what was wrong, so I think I created this bizarre system of checks and balances to create order in my world. But it really backfired.”
“Sometimes I feel like I’m trying too hard, like I don’t belong. I just look around at [co-stars] Lucy [Hale], Shay [Mitchell], and Ashley [Benson], and I’m just like, 'Why am I on this show?' Sometimes I’ve felt like a fraud. Like, I’m not like these other girls – I don’t dress like that and don’t know how to do my hair. The minute I’m off that stage, I try to get as 'me' as possible. I do that by piling on my black eyeliner, and I put on my ripped tights. Dressing like myself again helps.”