As the month of May comes to an end that means that Mental Health Awareness month is too. Despite the month coming to a close, discussion about mental health should take place every month and every day. According to Time, 18% of the world’s population, and 40% of Americans suffer from anxiety, and at least 16.2 million Americans suffer from depression. It’s one of the more taboo topics of conversation, yet one of the most universal struggles we as people face. The country music community has a reputation for staying silent on touchy subjects ranging from politics to racial and gender equity to mental health, citing that their music is the only opinion that should be in the mix. However, as the years have gone on, more country artists have been forthcoming with their struggles.
Brett Eldredge is one of the most vocal advocates for mental health within the genre. “As a kid, I would kind of have a panic attack, but I didn’t even know what that was,” he told Dan Harris who hosts the podcast 10% Happier back in 2018. “[I remember times] in college… I’d just [wonder] ‘Is something wrong with me?” Eldredge has reflected on these experiences in songs like “Castaway”, singing “I tried to fly but I ran out of sky/And I fell straight down into the ocean”. He also explores the theme of being so consumed by “a world that’s gone cold,” in new song “Where The Heart Is”, asking “What in the world, what in the world/Are we all doin’ here?/What do we see, what do we see/When we look in the mirror?” Eldredge has always been introspective in his lyrics, but as his career has progressed, he’s been even more open. “I’m always looking for somebody else that’s experiencing the same thing as me. It’s because you feel like you’re all alone,” he told Harris.
Eldredge has continued to use his platform for good. This past Saturday, he announced he was running a half-marathon to support Mental Health America. He told his fans that if they donated any money at all to his campaign, he would match every donation. Together, his fans raised $18,314, and together they raised $36,628. “I’m doing this for everybody that feels alone and [has struggled with] mental health and anxiety,” he said in a video. “People just hide it.”
Kelsea Ballerini is another artist who has been very open about her struggles with feeling like she wasn’t good enough or living up to her expectations. “Why am I so anxious all the time? Why all of a sudden am I the most insecure person that I know?” she told The Washington Post. She explores this in songs like “homecoming queen?” and “la”, and on the latter, sings “I ask myself, is it feeding my soul or my anxieties?” This lyric is perhaps her most important and memorable because it’s a simple reminder to check in with yourself when you’re feeling a little off.
Mickey Guyton is an artist who has been fighting countless battles, anything from getting more women on country radio, standing up for people of color and people in the LGBTQ+ community, and most recently, the despicable murders of innocent people like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and sadly, countless of other black people. Guyton, a woman of color herself, shared on Twitter, “I know we all suffer from anxiety in some form or another but imagine the anxiety black men must feel on a daily basis for just existing. Just let that sink in for a moment.” In songs like “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” she sings about the anxiety and difficulty of being a woman in society. “What are you gonna tell her? / When she figures out / That all this time you built her up just so the world could let her down?” The song is a plea for women and people everywhere struggling with not being heard.
A lot is going on in the world right now, and it is important more than ever to be on top of your mental health. It feels like a lot when you turn on the TV or check the news, but it is critical to stay informed and stay safe, whatever that means for you. NY Country Swag curated a playlist to help manage your anxiety, and so you know that you are not alone. Not now, and not ever.
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