Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and ‘Dazed’ ran an interview with Olly Alexander of Years & Years, in which he openly discussed his ongoing relationship with mental illness, and how it plays into the music industry.
On his own mental health: “I’ve been taking medication for depression and anxiety ever since I was a teenager and I’ve had treatment for both. When I was in school I suffered from eating disorders, bulimia, self-harm, which are all part of the mental health umbrella. It’s not only something that affects me but also affects my family and some of the people closest to me too, which I’m sure many people can relate to. I’ve spent the last few years really working on my mental health, trying to get better support. I’ve received care from the NHS and privately, from both sectors, and I feel like I’m a bit clued up on what’s out there in terms of the services and medications available. So that’s a little snapshot into my own experience of mental health. Also, being gay, that’s part of it too.”
On the education and awareness of mental health in the industry: “I look at artists who I think might be struggling with their mental health issues and like Halsey or maybe Azealia Banks, who have been vocal about their mental health struggles. We shove them on this platform, this huge platform, and expect them to do and say the right thing all the time and when they don’t, we crucify them for it. I worry if they have the right people around them, if they have any support networks. And Justin Bieber, once you get to the top – I mean that’s a different world, that top level – I feel like people’s mental health isn’t necessarily looked after that well. At my level of the industry and people I know, we’re all pretty sensitive people and we tend to look out for each other’s mental health and we’re pretty clued up on it. Maybe it’s different in different areas.”
On advice he’d give to young artists or musicians: “If you’re an artist or a musician, I’m sure you’re used to the feeling of struggling with your mental health, used to feeling like you’re not going to make it or you’re not going to achieve anything, questioning the point of it all or struggling creatively. That’s pretty common. But those things make you the artist that you are and you can channel them into the work. They can be your fuel. So long as they don’t consume you, they can be the energy that propels you. In my case it was anyway, I just wanted to channel it all into my songs. Channel it into your work and you can make something positive out of it.”
Check out Olly rocking a pink get-up below for ‘Dazed’…