Mary Lambert: Mental Health Ambassador.
This Thursday at the Beverly Hills Hilton, the Seattle singer will be honored by Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services for her work and bravery in confronting the stigma of mental illness. Through her songs like “Secrets” and “Body Love,” in particular the former, Lambert has offered comfort to listeners who are so often made to feel shame because of some “otherness.”
Here’s the irony about the music. We use it to give us comfort, to help heal our darkest pains —yet most musicians rarely will speak openly about their own struggles in plain terms and seek help.
That is changing.
Mary Lambert is part of a new generation of musicians who refuse to be shamed into the closet and who are using their songs, stages, and interviews to tell the world that mental illness is neither shameful nor defining nor show-stopping. It’s simply part of the picture.
Here are the faces of change. Along with marriage equality, these leaders are making sure that the next generation will never be ashamed and never have to keep secrets about their mental health.
Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit
The Passion Pit mastermind has been brutally honest about his battle with bipolar and his ultimate success in managing the illness. In less than a year, Angelakos went from a suicide watch to headlining Madison Square Garden. He did it in no small part thanks to an amazingly supportive band, manager, and wife. The dude is an inspiration and a righteous advocate. He was a 2013 Didi Hirsch honoree and a spokesperson for #StrongerThanStigma campaign. We’re lucky to have him.
The former Disney star had a very public mental health episode in 2010 and has since been even more public about her mental health advocacy. She released a 2012 documentary that put her bipolar and bulimia centerstage. Lovato then took her advocacy to new heights when she launched her 2014 “Mental Health Listening & Engagement Tour”aimed at providing forums for young adults to speak openly about their mental struggles.
Scott Mescudi has not only been candid about his own struggles with depression but he has challenged the black community to be honest about facing its own demons. The hip-hop scene needs more Kid Cudis who are willing to step away from the default braggadocio and break the silence on sensitive topics.
Author’s note: I serve on the board of directors of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, joining soon after the 2003 suicide of my mother — a former nightclub singer known as Shirlee May.
Need help? National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255