Collage featuring male musicians listed in the article

“Musicians have begun opening up about their personal struggles with mental health, using their platforms to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and remind us that we are not alone."

The life of a musician can seem glamorous, but between hectic touring schedules, isolation from loved ones, and the pressure of life in the public eye, the reality of being a performer is often incredibly stressful, and this strain can take a serious toll on a person’s mental health.

Fortunately, musicians have begun opening up about their personal struggles with mental health, using their platforms to raise awareness and reduce stigma. For our campaign during the month of February, we will be highlighting 22 famous male musicians who have spoken out about their experiences with mental health, serving as an inspiration and reminding us that we are not alone in our struggles.

1. Dan Reynoldsblack and white photo of Dan Reynolds

Photo by Drew de F Fawkes, Flickr

“Anybody who’s been depressed knows that it’s not [just sadness]. There’s a big difference… I lost interest in everything that I usually used to like. I became very anti-social; I didn’t want to go out and felt numb.”

American singer, songwriter, and record producer. Lead vocalist of the pop rock band Imagine Dragons

“Behind the Brand With Imagine Dragons Frontman Dan Reynolds” 

2. Big SeanPhoto of American rapper, Big Sean

Photo by Brad Fagan, Flickr

“I never really took the time out to nurture myself, to take care of myself. It took me a lot of depression, having a lot of anxiety to realize something was off…I’ve been getting myself together, getting my mind right. So I have been taking better care of myself.” 

American rapper

 “Musicians Who Have Opened Up About Their Mental Health Struggles”

3. Tom FletcherPhoto of Tom Fletcher performing on stage

Photo by -SammyJo-, Flickr

“I’d never been the most sociable of people, but I felt more anti-social than ever. I’d lost my enthusiasm for everything. You can’t remember what it’s like to be happy. The truth is, I’d have done almost anything to rid myself of the depressions….It’s extremely common, anyone can be affected by it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and help is available”

English singer, musician, songwriter, composer, author and vlogger. One of the lead vocalists and rhythm guitarist of English pop rock band, McFly

“My Mental Health: 17 popstars talk about their struggles with mental illness”

4. David Nailphoto of David Nail performing on stage

Photo by Timothy Wildey, Flickr

“As you grow more and more comfortable with that process [of therapy] and the person, it’s amazing all the things that you dig up that you never really knew bothered you before, and I just felt this freedom — I felt lighter. I’d held so much of this stuff in and I was, in essence, a ticking time bomb.”

American country music artist, and frontman of the band David Nail & The Well Ravens

“David Nail Says He Was ‘A Ticking Time Bomb’ Before Facing His Depression”

5. Justin BieberPhoto of Justin Bieber performing on stage

Photo by NRK P3, Flickr

“I think that there was times where I was really, really suicidal, like really like ‘Man, is this pain ever gonna go away?’ It was so consistent, the pain was so consistent. I was just suffering, so I (was) just like, ‘Man, I would rather not feel this than feel this…I just would encourage people, ‘Hey, if you’re feeling lonely, talk about it. Say it out loud. There’s a freedom in that,” he said.”

Canadian singer

“Justin Bieber reveals he experienced suicidal thoughts in new documentary”

6. Kid CudiPhoto of Kid Cudi performing on stage

Photo by Laurence Barnes, Flickr

“I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me? I guess I give so much of myself to others I forgot that I need to show myself some love too. I think I never really knew how. I’m scared, I’m sad, I feel like I let a lot of people down and again, I’m sorry. It’s time I fix me. I’m nervous but ima [sic] get through this.” 

American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor

“My Mental Health: 17 popstars talk about their struggles with mental illness”

7. Pete WentzPhoto of Pete Wentz performing on stage

Photo by Digitas Photos, Flickr

“My highs, my happiness are really high and my lows are very low and I’m not able to regulate between the two. Through actual therapy and having kids, it’s way more under control, and something I can see when I’m on the roller coaster and control it more.”

American musician, bassist and lyricist for the rock band Fall Out Boy

“Musicians Who Have Opened Up About Their Mental Health Struggles”

8. J. BalvinJ Balvin performing on stage

Photo by Philippe Agnifili, Flickr

“I was just crying for no reason… and I didn’t know why… It’s okay not to be okay. I understand you, I feel you. I feel what you feel, you know? You might be having your ‘best moment in life’ and you’re feeling like s—. I feel you, I’ve been there. I’m going to that right now, but I still got this faith that everything is going to back to normal. I’m disciplined. I take my medication.”

 Colombian singer and rapper

“J. Balvin opens up about his depression: ‘I was waiting to die'”

9. Daniel JohnstonDaniel Johnston performing on stage

Photo by Brian Bruchman, Flickr

“Music is good therapy for me…Expression is the funniest thing that I can think of. It saved my life. I was a terrible manic-depressive. When I’d have severe attacks of depression, I’d go to the library or the comic book shop, and I just loved it.”

Late American singer-songwriter and visual artist 

“For Daniel Johnston, Art and Therapy Were One and the Same”

10. Paul Moravec Paul Moravec posing in front of piano

Photo by Adelphi University

“Coming back from depression, I identified with Prospero and his melancholy and his downcast state. Through the power of imagination he improves his condition, and so that’s what I did as a composer….We all get depressed from time to time, but the suffering from clinical depression is unimaginable. I guess I’m proof that you can get help and go on. ”

American composer

“A Composer Who’s Weathered Some Tempests of His Own”

11. Madeon Madeon performing on stage

Photo by Guillaume Highwire, Wikimedia Commons

“After debuting the show at [Lollapalooza] I was more spent and depressed than I expected. I couldn’t feel anything at all. It felt wrong finishing and releasing music that celebrated joy when I couldn’t feel that joy at all anymore. So I decided to take time and put everything on hold for a bit.”

French musician, DJ, record producer, singer and songwriter 

“EDM Musicians Are Opening Up About Mental Health, And It’s About Time”

12. SugaSuga performing on stage

Photo by Yun_Q, Flickr

“I’m comfortable now and feeling good [after struggling with depression], but those sorts of negative emotions come and go. So it’s almost like cold weather. It may come back in a cycle over a year, year and a half. But when I hear people say that when they listen to my music, and feel comfort and are consoled by those lyrics that express these emotions, that makes me feel very good. It’s very encouraging. I think, for anybody, these emotions are not something that need to be hidden. They need to be discussed and expressed.

South Korean rapper, songwriter and record producer, member of BTS

“Suga on How BTS Stays Hungry After Conquering the World”

13. M. ShadowsM. Shadow performing on stage

Photo by Focka, Flickr

“All I can say is, I never knew what depression was and you could say the word over and over again to me and I’d never know what the depths of it felt like until I lost Jimmy [Jimmy Sullivan, fellow Avenged Sevenfold band member]. I went through about three years when I couldn’t do anything, so I went to go talk to someone and it was the hardest three years of my life. I would shake at night and have anxiety of anything I was doing, I couldn’t sleep, y’know off the wall, random…All I can say to people who don’t think depression is a real thing, or say ‘just suck it up and get over it’ – they just really have no idea. You have to give people the benefit of the doubt that they’re doing the best they can to get through it.”

 American singer and songwriter, lead vocalist, songwriter, and member of heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold

“Avenged Sevenfold’s M Shadows on depression: “Never tell someone to just ‘get over it’”

14. George EzraGeorge Ezra performing on stage

Photo by Kmeron, Flickr

“I’m a man and I know from first hand experience that one of many things that groups of men are shit at doing is talking about feelings, emotions, stress, family issues, relationship issues etc,. Again, I don’t have all the answers but I’d take a good guess at the fact that gender stereotypes and dated expectations have a big part to play in this. ‘Stop being a girl, or ‘man up’, are things that we hear being thrown in the direction of young men from an early age.”

English guitarist, singer, songwriter and vocalist

“George Ezra on mental health”

15. Childish GambinoChildish Gambino performing on stage

Photo by DeShaun Craddock, Flickr

“After I came off tour… I was just super depressed. I mean, I tried to kill myself. I was really fucked up after that, because I had this girl that I thought I was going to marry and we broke up. I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing. I wasn’t living up to my standard, I was living up to other people’s standards, and I just said ‘I don’t see the point.’”

American actor, rapper, singer, writer, comedian, director, and producer

“Donald Glover: Fear and Trembling”

16. Wayne BradyWayne Brady performing on stage

Photo by SMSpivey, Wikimedia Commons 

“It’s difficult for men in general, I think, because of just the way that we’re raised… We feel any of the negative emotions or that dark cloud settle on you, and you feel like you need to cry out or speak to someone about it, and, ‘Nope, I’m not gonna do that, because I’m a man.’ … What kind of man would I sound like if I told somebody, ‘Hey, I am so sad. I’m cripplingly sad. I can’t get out of bed. I just feel empty. Help me’… I’d be [seen as] some sissy. I’d be soft. That’s what you’re taught. That’s how you were programmed. And that’s what kills us.”

American television personality, comedian, actor, and singer

“Wayne Brady Speaks Out About His Depression: ‘It Ate Away at Me Daily'”

17. Olly Murs Olly Murs performing on stage

Photo by Stacey takes photos, Flickr

“I was doing these crazy 16-hour days, seven days a week, and the reality was I couldn’t handle it but I couldn’t admit that to myself, let alone anyone else…I was like a zombie but underneath it all I was just worrying about what was going to happen to me and I was actually depressed.”

English singer, songwriter, dancer, television presenter, voice actor, and director

 “‘I was a zombie. Drinking too much, depressed, crying’: Olly Murs on the darker side of fame”

18. Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen performing on stage

Photo by JolandaBakker, Wikimedia Commons

“I’ve had to deal with a lot of [mental illness] over the years, and I’m on a variety of medications that keep me on an even keel; otherwise I can swing rather dramatically and … just … the wheels can come off a little bit. So we have to watch, in our family. I have to watch my kids, and I’ve been lucky there. It ran in my family going way before my dad.””

American singer, songwriter, and musician

“Musicians Who Have Opened Up About Their Mental Health Struggles”

19.  Lil Wayne Lil Wayne performing on stage

Photo by Megan Elice Meadows, Wikimedia Commons

“There is no bar to measure how real [mental health] is. It’s real…if someone even has the guts, the heart, the bravery, whatever to at least admit that they have something going on up there that they’re not sure about, it’s so real that we should only react in the realest way possible.”

American rapper and record executive

“Mental Health Doesn’t Discriminate feat. Lil Wayne – Uncomfortable Conversations with Emmanuel Acho”

20. Olly AlexanderOlly Alexander performing on stage

Photo by  Krists Luhaers, Flickr

“CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is really helpful if you have a panic disorder or anxiety, which I was definitely experiencing at one stage. CBT does really help you try and relearn ways in which you can deal with those moments of panic or crisis. The likelihood is that you or someone you know closely will suffer from a mental health condition in your lifetime. It’s like any other part of your body – your mental health gets sick, and it needs treatment.”

British musician, songwriter, actor and screenwriter

“Years & Years frontman criticises government over cuts to NHS mental health services”

21. Zayn MalikZayn Malik performing on stage

Photo by First Access Entertainment, Wikimedia Commons

“Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of; it affects millions of people every day. When I was in One Direction, my anxiety issues were huge but, within the safety net of the band, they were at least manageable. As a solo performer, I felt much more exposed, and the psychological stress of performing had just gotten to be too much for me to handle — at that moment, at least. Rather than hiding away, sugar-coating it, I knew I had to put it all out there.”

British singer

“Musicians Who Have Opened Up About Their Mental Health Struggles”

22. Shawn MendesShawn Mendes performing on stage

Photo by Ralph_PH, Flickr

“Talking about the problem, putting it out there, was one of the scariest but most important things I’ve ever done. Just doing that helped me the most. I still struggle with it but just remember every day that everyone deals with some level of anxiety or pressure; we’re all in it together.”

Canadian singer and songwriter

“Shawn Mendes Talks Managing His Mental Health: ‘I Still Struggle With’ Anxiety”

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