Discussion: Music and Mental Health

In  this month’s poll, a lot of you had mentioned that music equals life or, it is a way to express something that cannot be said simply through words alone. Through music it is easier to convey a feeling that can be understood through a series of emotions that are unique to the receiver. Dealing with any form of mental illness alone is difficult in its own right, and it has been known for years now that music helps tremendously with coping. With the passing of both Chester Bennington and, Seattle’s own, Chris Cornell in the last year it has become ever present and prevalent that there is a worldwide crisis and not within just our music scene.

Taking a step back it is easy to assume that fame had gotten the best of these two icons, but we all know that isn’t the case. Both Bennington and Cornell had an enormous platform to address the internal adversaries they were facing, yet they were still fighting and struggling internally. Through their pain they produced some of the most profound and heart wrenching pieces of work. This doesn’t change the fact that they were merely human. It only sheds light on deeper seated issues that both artists were extremely vocal about. May they rest in peace.

In light of all the negativity surrounding depression, addiction, self-harm and suicide, there is one common language that the entire world is capable of speaking and understanding, that is music. For years musicians have used the stage as a pedestal. Encouraging those that suffer to speak out and to not be ashamed of what is going on within their own heads. Currently this theme has been on the up and up. Silent Planet’s most recent album ‘Everything Was Sound’ is about nine individuals with mental illnesses, Garrett Russell pulled inspiration from his own research including his own experiences as a therapist to produce the content. In an interview with ‘The Young Folks’ Russell mentioned, “I think music is the most human of all languages, so I feel like I’m still doing therapy in some sense.”

Over the last few years multiple artists spanning various genres have stepped forward to tackle the subject of mental health. Displaying empathy for those that suffer and reassuring their fans to not feel ashamed for having to talk to a professional about these issues. What the world needs more of is education and understanding. These illnesses are not going to go anywhere if we as a people do not understand them. Jonathan Anthony Wolfe of Vespera recently mentioned, “I think as a whole, we’re still too judgmental. That’s not to discredit anyone who has made positive strides, but I think our work has just begun.” Our communities are still learning how to break the silence and dive into deep heartfelt conversations with one another without passing judgement. That is where it starts.

Everything starts with kindness, if you or someone you know is struggling, do not hesitate to reach out, either for yourself or to ensure the safety and comfort of another. And as always the American Suicide Hotline is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You’re  not alone.

If you would like to read more from Jonathan Wolfe here is the link to an essay that he had composed with the release of Vespera’s powerful video for “Paradise” on Alternative Press.