By ALEX LYALL

 

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in Aotearoa New Zealand. ‘Connecting with Nature’ is the theme; we are being asked to take in the sights and smells of our country.

Here in Christchurch, a fortnight of rain and clouds has finished and the sun is finally out. A walk around the deliciously green Hagley Park is now a must. 

Mental Health Awareness Week is important. Sadly, we have to be reminded that it’s alright to feel anxious or depressed. Life can cause such feelings; there’s just a lot going on. We have to be reminded because we still live in a culture where there is taboo around mental illness.

The good people at the New Zealand Music Foundation Wellbeing Service are trying to change this. Their mission declares that it’s alright to feel this way, and when you do, it’s more than okay to ask for help.

For those of us in the Kiwi music community – a musician, or just a fan like myself – these are words we need to hear. If you check out their website you can see where to get help, and links to counselling services are provided. 

 

Mental health is talked about so little that we will never fully realise the degree that it hurts our community. Some musicians have spoken about it though, and this is what they’ve said:


Kendrick Lamar

In a powerful interview last year, Kendrick Lamar opened up about his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.

“Psychologically it messes your brain up. You living this life, you know what I’m saying, but you still have to face the realities of this.

In talking about it, Kendrick is also able to reveal what helps him too. He views his celebrity status as a means of providing leadership: earlier this year he was invited to meet Barack Obama in his office for his work with the ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ mentoring programme. Kendrick also celebrates himself: He yelled “I love myself” on I last year. It’s important to remember to celebrate yourself.

kendrick-lamar-meets-barack-obama-facebook-111016-twa

Kendrick Lamar – Facebook

Rio Hemopo – Trinity Roots

In his final year of study, Rio had an episode which saw him admitted to Wellington hospital.

“It was like a daydream I couldn’t wake up from.”

Rio has seen the importance in speaking out, and finding help, as when you’re alone, “you can’t see the wood for the trees.”


Demi Lovato

Demi has spoken often about her experiences with mental illness, leading the way in trying to change how society shushes it.

“I want to be the most informed and powerful advocate I can be and to help people find the courage to speak out.”

Staying strong and shining lights has been for Demi the battle-cry to keep going. Speaking out has not only been helpful for herself, but for so many other people too.


Kanye West

Following the death of his mother in 2007, Kanye spoke out about his struggle with suicidal thoughts. Importantly, he spoke out for other people too.

“There’s so many people that will never get the chance to have their voice heard… I do it for them.”

Beyond speaking out, Kanye has found power in striving for his best.

“People tell you to always be humble, humble, humble. [But] when’s the last time anyone told you to be amazing, great or awesome?”

When we speak out about mental illness, we can’t forget that we’re all so much better than we give ourselves credit for. You are amazing, you are great, you are awesome – don’t forget it.

Kanye West - Facebook

Kanye West – Facebook

Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) runs from October 10th-16th. This year, the theme is connecting with nature, so expect some more bright and breezy pieces from us! Click here for more info about MHAW.

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