Musical artists amplify the conversation about mental health
The third incarnation of Sound Mind arrives in Southern California on May 20, and as the world continues to grapple with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the music festival created to spark dialogue around health support mental hits differently this year.
All Time Low, Fitz and the Tantrums, Lovelytheband, Charlotte Lawrence, Delta Spirit’s Matthew Logan Vasquez and Ian Sweet will take the stage at the socially distanced event, which will also be broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook via Consequence Media.
Founded as a grassroots movement that drew a few hundred attendees in its first year, Sound Mind 2021 will host thousands of fans live for a drive-through show, and top acts with larger platforms to help end the stigma around mental health. Proceeds from the event will benefit affiliates of NAMI, which provides free programs and services to people with mental health issues through their local affiliates across the country.
âThe response from the music community has been huge,â said Chris Bullard, founder of Sound Mind, a musician who once performed with Willie Nelson and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his twenties.
âThe biggest difference now is that it’s a priority for everyone. Whether you’ve struggled with a diagnosed mental health problem or this is your first time thinking about mental health, as there are heightened pressures from the pandemic or financial strains and the heightened sense of isolation … we have all experienced this collective trauma over the past year, âBullard said.
A recent CDC study found that 41 percent of people suffer from mental health issues as a result of the pandemic, with 75 percent of young adults reporting these issues. The music industry and individual artists, many of whom were already in dialogue with their fans about mental health, are picking up the pace.
MTV Entertainment Group has launched an initiative to make May 20 a Day of Action for Mental Health and has so far signed over 1,000 companies and organizations and enlisted the support of musicians such as Selena Gomez and JoJo. Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams, who has spoken openly about her battle with depression, recently teamed up with remote counseling service BetterHelp. Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons has shared his mental health issues as the band prepare to release their fifth studio album. Just to name a few.
A paradigm shift
“I’m optimistic a paradigm shift is happening,” said Alex Gaskarth, lead singer of All Time Low. “The conversation is more in the foreground than it ever has been, and it’s very important and needs to continue to be pushed.”
Gaskarth says All Time Low’s dialogue with fans about mental wellness has evolved over the years. âA lot of it came from the fans talking about the things they were going through in their lives and how our music got them through some tough times. It was moving people reaching out and reaching out to each other. connect on a much deeper level with us through our music. It got us thinking about how music heals and helps, and it all came together in the realization that the conversation just had to take place, âsays -he.
âIt’s about removing the stigma of not being able to talk about these things. I came from a generation where with our parents some of these issues were not addressed because it did not seem appropriate, âadds Gaskarth. âIt became an important thing for us to create a healthy and safe environment where people could feel like there was no problem saying, ‘This is happening with me and I don’t know what to do. . And from there, we tried to be more active in the space and cultivate and nurture causes that promoted mental health awareness.
For Fitz and the Tantrums, whose 2019 album was notably titled All feelings, “the band has been very aware of being very open about our own personal struggles,” said co-singer Noelle Scaggs.
âThe way we approach our songs and the difficulty of the process, and for meâ¦ all the issues I’ve had for most of my life and my own mental health issue. Being really open about it has been helpful and maybe inspiring for the fans, âshe says. âIt takes away the stigma, and I know that with other artists it becomes a big talking point. I love that more and more people are allowing their vulnerability to be a platform for people to say it’s okay to talk about these things and not feel like they will. labeled as such or they will lose their jobs. It’s about being more honest and gaining a better understanding of ourselves.
Broaden the goal
Scaggs, who founded the Diversify the Stage initiative to help the concert, event and touring industries increase diverse performance, says it’s time for conversations about mental health to take place on a larger scale.
âIt’s about looking at the journeys of the BIPOC community and how different they are from people who don’t identify with those communities, and being respectful of that,â she says. “And if you are providing mental health services, look at this education lens that has to happen with the counselors so that there is some identification that can happen.”
For musicians, the healing that occurs when they open up the conversation with fans can go both ways.
âI can definitely empathize with depression and anxiety,â Vasquez says. âI’ve had some pretty intense fights with both and I’m still working on that. I feel like our culture is definitely skewed towards a greater acceptance of these things … It’s all about perspective.
Gaskarth is quick to note the benefit to the group when All Time Low hosted live meetups with fans during the pandemic. âWe felt like they had come a long way for the fans and for us, to be honest. It was really good for us to connect too, âhe says.
âPeople are doing their best to seize the opportunity. For us, it’s about cultivating a culture that is good and kind, and what’s amazing is that when we talk about these issues, it creates a feeling that our fans can hold onto and share on shows. . This creates an environment that emphasizes mutual improvement, and that’s an important message to get across.