The month of May is observed as Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States, which has slowly spread on a global level. Countries and organisations across the world host activities and find forums and support groups to help those in need during this month to not only spread awareness – but also help people acknowledge their mental health.
Artist Lauv has, in the last few years gone above and beyond to start a conversation about mental health and self-care, starting with an online forum known as “My Blue Thoughts”. This allowed fans to send in their thoughts and share experiences about things they were going through, which then developed into the practice of writing messages after each of his live shows for him to read.
In the past year, Lauv founded the Blue Boy Foundation – a widespread digital initiative that allows young people to seek help through countless forums and helplines, to donate to organizations and to contribute to the overall wellbeing of the world, an impressive move for someone you could say is still fairly new to the music industry. This foundation is dedicated to those in their youth who struggle to cope with themselves and the world around them, as the pace of our lives rarely leaves us with the time to introspect.
On May 1st, the Blue Boy Foundation held an online panel with the support of Microsoft, and TeenLine, another such organization that helps the youth against issues like bullying, mental health struggles, and self-harm. Joining the Executive Director of TeenLine, Michelle Carlson, and Lauv was the singer’s close friends and collaborators Alessia Cara, Sofia Reyes, and Anne-Marie. Each of these ladies has recently featured on Lauv’s debut album How I’m Feeling.
Carlson moderated this panel, engaging conversation about mental health in the times of a global pandemic and the attention we must bring to ourselves at such a moment in time. The artists all shared what they are learning to deal with in terms of mental health during this period where most of the world is in lockdown. Anne-Marie confessed how she struggles to cope with her days that do not have a schedule at the moment as most artists in the industry live a packed life that is always on the go. Alessia spoke about the importance of just letting ourselves feel things and emotions, especially the not – so – positive ones as they come, regardless of if we have it better or worse than someone else – we have a lot to feel guilty about anyway.
During this period of lockdown, Sofia Reyes recommended a practice she built over the period of the past year that she refers to as “highlights” that may be of help to someone somewhere. Highlights is when at the end of her day, Reyes would write down a few things that stood out to her that day, be it a cup of coffee or the way the sky looked that evening. Over time she learned that this practice made her so much more aware of her surroundings at all times, and made her appreciate the smaller things we tend to overlook. She also shared that because of her sharing this, a lot of her fans had also taken up on the habit and would send their daily logs to her. She says that she doesn’t even need to write her highlights down anymore, as she can spot them as they happen.
Carlson proceeded to ask the panelists what action they had taken, maybe towards charities or organizations during this time that has financially affected countless people. Anne-Marie shared that being from the UK, the NHS was an organization she duly supported. Alessia spoke about the importance of supporting local businesses, as it is not the larger corporations that would fall apart without an income in such a time. Lauv proceeded to talk about the importance of being emotionally present for those in your life, as being locked indoors can be a greatly difficult time in the lives of those who depend on distractions to keep themselves going.
The best advice they would give to someone dealing with anxiety and depression these days is to create a safe space for themselves, join online forums or support groups that allow you to express what you’re going through, and to be patient with yourself and allow yourself the vulnerability to feel what you’re going through. The same could be said if you have doubts about a friend or loved one’s mental health, said Anne-Marie. The more patient we are, the easier it is for people to open up to us. Lauv added that in this day and age where social media leaves no room for privacy, it is important to be accepting and receptive towards those in our life.
These artists themselves have all opened up about the importance of being aware of your feelings and their own struggles with their emotions and frame of mind in the past, so it made sense for Carlson to ask them what they did to help themselves and to let others know that things weren’t as good as they seemed. Alessia emphasized how hard it is to open up to your family initially, but once the elephant in the room has been addressed, it genuinely helps you to formulate your thoughts better. Sofia confessed that her family wasn’t as open about mental health and as close as she was to her folks living in Mexico while she moved to LA a while ago, she didn’t see herself talking to them about her struggles. She said that talking to her friends and seeing a therapist has been of tremendous help. Thus she would suggest the same to anyone watching, to open up to those that you feel the most comfortable with, and it may not always be family.
A conversation like this can go a long way in times where we’re willing to go to any length to not actually have to address our mental health be it anxiety, depression or any other disorder of this kind, it is a privilege to have the space to open up about it. In such a case, even this hour-long live stream could flip the world around for someone watching. It is so, so important for influencers of the likes of Lauv, Sofia Reyes, Alessia Cara, and Anne Marie to be honest and open with their own personal experiences to allow their fans to create a safe space of their own, and so far, they have been incredibly successful with it.