Important: If you’re feeling depressed or suicidal, we urge you to get help right away. Call a suicide hotline number or seek your doctor’s/mental health specialist’s help immediately. You are not alone, there is support available.
Music has helped so many of us get through tough times in our lives — whether it was a breakup, failing an exam, or losing a loved one. The best kind of songs are those that strike a chord deep within us. And songs about mental illness often do just that. Did you know that almost 1 billion people in the world struggle with some form of mental disorder? By the time you finish reading this sentence, one person, somewhere in the world, would have taken their own life. A suicide takes place every 40 seconds.
There are hundreds of millions of people who struggle with depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and a myriad of other mental health issues. Music is one of the most popular forms of art and it gives solace to people. Could it be because musicians themselves struggle with a lot of these mental health issues?
While a career as a musician can be thrilling and full of stardom, statistics show a dark side of the music industry. A study of around 1500 independent music-makers showed that 73% of them have “experienced negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and/or depression in relation to their music creation.” One out of three said they’ve had panic attacks.
While these numbers are certainly disheartening, we will forever be grateful to our musicians who have created songs that stay by our side when we feel utterly, desperately alone.
Let’s look at 5 songs about mental illness that moved many hearts and brought tears to many eyes:
Released in: 1999
The track belongs to the album called Enema of the State. This was a surprising hit by the rock band Blink-182 that usually didn’t produce serious songs. Adam’s Song is a song about depression, loneliness, and suicide, but also hope. The song was written by the band’s bass player Mark Hoppus who was depressed on tour, being away from his family.
Released in: 2015
Kids in the Dark is a song from the album Future Hearts, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. At 75,000 copies sold in the first week, it turned out to be the band’s biggest-selling week. The song feels nostalgic and talks about “kids in the dark”, meaning the kids who never got any real attention and were told they’d never accomplish anything. The song also touches upon self-harm and loneliness.
Released in: 2018
Hunger is a song about beauty, vulnerability, and love. The song is deeply personal for Florence Welch, the band’s vocalist, who struggled with an eating disorder during her teenage years. The lyrics allude to the drugs, and insecurities we all go through. The song is powerful, as is the video, showing beautiful shots of Florence dancing, unapologetic and free.
Released in: 2018
Bmike is an Australian rapper. As he notes in his YouTube video description, he wrote this song to help lift the stigma that surrounds mental health and show things from the perspective of a struggling individual. The video is shot in a room where he’s talking to his therapist. The song hits home for many who suffer from anxiety. His rap shows the desperate need for a quick fix, the angst, and the hopelessness people with mental illnesses feel.
Released in: 2010
The A Team is a moving song about drug addiction and how it impacts the lives of those who fall into the habit. Sheeran shares the experience that inspired this song in an interview with Billboard. He met a woman at a homeless shelter who was addicted to cocaine, he also heard many other stories at the shelter that shocked him. The incidents inspired him to write The A Team. A black and white video accompanies the song that shows a day in the life of a homeless woman who’s addicted to cocaine.
Dealing with a mental illness is tough. Music and other forms of art can help ease the pain and even give an outlet to all the pent-up emotions. These 5 songs capture the essence of mental illness very well.