Artists Cultivate Mental Health Conversation

By Lilly Ball

For many, music is an outlet, a way of expressing pent up emotions that are difficult to spit out. Through their music, artists are often credited with helping their fans through times of turmoil, but who comforts the suffering artist?

When rapper Kid Cudi poured his emotions into a moving confession on Facebook three weeks ago, revealing his distressed mental state, comments of support flooded in from both fans and other celebrities. In his post, Cudi revealed his ongoing battle with anxiety and depression, sharing that it has ruled his life for far too long, leading him to check into rehab.

For many, Cudi’s decision came as a shock, his words reverberating throughout the internet in the form of tweets and statuses, prompting a discussion about the importance of mental health. Many suffer in silence due to the negative stigma surrounding the topic, but a public figure like Cudi revealing his problems allows others to follow in suit, especially those fans that look to him as a role model.

In words as poetic as his lyrics, Cudi shared that he has never before felt truly at peace, a heartbreaking revelation from someone who has helped many with his work. In one of his most popular songs, “Pursuit of Happiness,” Cudi sings “Tell me what you know about night terrors, nothing. You don’t really care about the trials of tomorrow, rather lay awake in a bed full of sorrow.” These melancholy lyrics have been sung over and over by fans since the song’s release in 2009, hinting that Cudi has felt this unrest since he entered the spotlight.
Though Cudi has spoken of his struggles before in interviews, his courageous decision to share the inner workings of his mind with the internet has undoubtedly helped many. When 34,598 die in the United States as a result of suicide each year (according to a study conducted by Emory University), a public figure unveiling their own torment means the world to a multitude of fans who may have felt alone in their pain.

While many people suffering from mental health problems prefer to keep their treatment private, some celebrities openly share their road to recovery, like singer Demi Lovato when she entered rehab in 2010. After several private details of Lovato’s life came to light it was clear to the public that she was in anguish. For years prior to her treatment, Lovato appeared in TV shows and films such as “Camp Rock,” making her a childhood favorite of many, and to know that she was suffering through all of this is particularly distressing to fans.

Lovato candidly admitted to suffering from depression and an eating disorder, opening up a positive and supportive conversation about mental health amongst her fans.

This confession came with a new identity for Lovato, one of confidence and self love, which was further supported by her fiercely empowering album, “Unbroken” in 2011. The track “Skyscraper” (which I still find myself shouting the words to on particularly hard days) is haunting, almost tragic in its poetic lyrics that establish just how far Lovato had to come to simply accept herself.

With the declaration, “Go on and try to tear me down, I will be rising from the ground, like a skyscraper,” the song remains a powerful anthem for all who find themselves feeling as if they are “made of glass.” Lovato’s current work may be drastically different from that of “Unbroken,” but she continues to openly support those in need of courage, and models confidence wherever she goes.

For those in the process of recovering like Cudi, or others who have struggled through their torment like Lovato, help can always be provided if needed.

If you find yourself relating to any of the feelings discussed in this article, please do not hesitate to contact the UCI Counseling Center at 949-824-6457 or see them on campus at 203 Student Services 1.