Photo illustration by Kaushik Kalidindi.
Starting the Conversation: Six Artists Who've Opened Up About Mental Health
With various efforts in tow to eliminate the stigma around mental health, many artists have let us know that we’re not alone by exhibiting their own vulnerability.
TW: This article discusses themes of suicide, drug use, and depression. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis with any of the above, you can contact the National Suicide Hotline by dialing 988, the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘HOME’ to 741741, or the SAMHSA National Helpline by dialing 1-800-662-4357.
Mental health is becoming less of a taboo topic and more people are feeling comfortable talking candidly about their feelings and emotional struggles. This is a welcome occurrence that’s not only happening within general segments of society but also with celebrities and established public figures.
Several music artists have been coming forward to discuss their struggles with mental health and share the significant low points they’ve dealt with in their lives. It takes real courage to be transparent about one’s inner battles, especially under the searing glare of fame and stardom.
We shortlisted six artists who have been vulnerable enough to highlight their mental health issues.
Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion performs onstage during the 2023 LA Pride in the Park Festival at Los Angeles Historical Park on June 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images.
Following the 10-year sentencing of Tory Lanez, Megan Thee Stallion has been outwardly vocal about her battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. Her latest single, “Cobra,” contains pressing lyrics about her struggles with depression, anxiety, and grief. In the song, she raps, “Every night, I cried, I almost died/ And nobody close tried to stop it / Long as everybody gettin’ paid, right?” and details her struggles with being at “rock bottom”.
Megan has also made commendable strides in a positive direction. She recently appeared in the “Seize the Awkward” campaign for the Ad Council. Additionally, her website provides resources for those struggling with mental health, and it’s a great starting for those seeking mental wellness help.
Rapper Earl Sweatshirt performs on stage during Primavera Sound 2022 on June 03, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo by Jim Bennett/WireImage.
It’s hard to believe that Earl’s been in the game now for over a decade. Like all true artists, his music has gone through various evolutions and changes through the years. His earlier music often relayed his complex relationship with depression, anxiety, and reliance on substances.
His 2015 album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside expresses these emotional complexities and difficulties. One of the standout songs on the album, “Grief,” features the lyrics, “Lately I’ve been panicking a lot / Feeling like I’m stranded in a mob / Scrambling for Xanax out the canister to pop.” Even the name of the album was a sign that Earl was going through some tough times.
Since then, Earl has made public mention of his desire to make more positive music, and we hope it’s a sign that his mental health is on the ascendancy.
Singer Janelle Monae performs onstage during the closing night of the "Age of Pleasure" tour at YouTube Theater on October 18, 2023 in Inglewood, California.
Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images.
Mostly known for her unique persona and unbridled creativity, Janelle Monáe is a singular and exceptional talent. However, she has spoken out about battles with obsessive-compulsive disorder as someone in the public light.
Monáe has emphasized the importance of having anchoring routines when coping with mental health issues, revealing that she works regularly with a coach and attends therapy. She is no stranger to speaking up about mental health efforts, and was the recipient of the Trevor Project’s 2022 Suicide Prevention Advocate Award. Monae’s efforts in trying to remove the stigma around mental health have influenced many to start the difficult conversations and be honest about their personal emotional struggles.
ig Sean performs at the 2022 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 22, 2022 in Indio, California.
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Coachella.
In 2019, Big Sean decided that he was done perpetuating the false persona he pushed to his fans. His public vulnerability about his battles with mental health was unexpected, but life-changingly necessary. In 2012, Sean and his mother started a non-profit organization, the Sean Anderson Foundation. By making his struggles public, he opened the door for more Black men to be confident about sharing their emotional issues and insecurities.
The foundation is centered on giving back to the community and improving the life quality of at-risk youth and their families. With frequent financial donations, job opportunities, and education improvements, the Sean Anderson Foundation has greatly improved the prospects for future Detroit generations - a commendable achievement indeed.
Victoria Monét attends BET Awards Media House at Quixote Studios West Hollywood on June 24, 2023 in West Hollywood, California.
Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET.
Childbirth is one of the most taxing human experiences, and unfortunately, postpartum depression is a common condition for many mothers. Especially for women of color, postpartum depression continues to be a serious problem and one that requires much more attention. The talented singer, Victoria Monét experienced postpartum depression and was brave enough to share what she went through.
“After I had Hazel, I went into a full depression. I was very hard on myself, and just judging so much and worrying about what I used to look like and what I used to have,” Monét reveals. Her feelings about the after-effects of childbirth are not unique, as many mothers have reported similar struggles. However, Monét has made valiant efforts to instill positive thoughts into her now two-year-old daughter, Hazel. Her courage and openness about her mental depression have also allowed her to forge more meaningful connections with loyal listeners of her music.
Janet Jackson speaks onstage during the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on November 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Janet Jackson comes from one of the most talented music families in the world. With most of her family being in the spotlight from a young age, there were also bound to be some struggles with adjusting to celebrity life. In a letter featured in Essence Magazine, Jackson goes in-depth about her “intense” battle with depression and how it was able to manifest itself in the different areas of her life. Jackson shares, “Like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value.” She also reveals how many of her negative thoughts about herself came to fruition in her childhood, and how certain circumstances made her unable to cope with them.
Fortunately, the letter has an upside with Jackson sharing how much joy she found in motherhood and how it helped to improve her mental health as a whole. She had her first son in 2017 and has spoken often about her boundless gratitude for her God-given gift. She shared, “When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere.”
Even though mental health troubles are becoming more prevalent in today’s society, it is reassuring to know we are not alone in our thoughts and feelings. Those that we idolize are still human and have bad days too. If we all muster the courage to share our struggles and vulnerabilities, we all move forward together to a more positive and happier state of being.
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