The United States is currently experiencing a mental health crisis, yet the topic still manages to get swept under a rug or viewed as taboo.
Jimmie Allen, Morgan Wade, Lindsay Ell are a select group of musicians who are using their powerful platforms to activate a chain reaction to capitalize on the importance of mental health. Together, they overlook the stigma that hinders open communication, by using music to connect with themselves and others.
The pioneers recently (May 25) joined CMT on Twitter to share how they are normalizing the conversation in country music and to reveal tactics on how they keep their health in check. Country correspondent for CMT Hot 20, Rissi Palmer, steered the discussion with the award-winning artists and assured each listener that fame or fortune does not heal all.
Throughout the honest exchange – Allen opened up about his constant battle with bipolar disorder, Wade voiced her sobriety journey, and Ell fearlessly spoke out about her sexual assault story. With intent, the chart-topping singers placed their guards down to create a safe space.
“I am happy a lot of the time, but a lot of the time, I’m not. We all struggle. I feel like my first couple years in the business were focused on happy, positive, happy, positive – and that is still there,” Allen stressed regarding his upbeat music. “I recently wanted to show another side, because the best thing for me was when I realized that some of my favorite artists were bipolar [Charley Pride & Kanye West] that really made me feel like I was not out here by myself,” he added.
The “Down Home” singer said that resonating with other musicians changed the trajectory of his career, and inspired him to deliver his truth through music. Since building up the courage to leave his heart on the writing table, parents and children who struggle with mental illness have reached out to thank Allen for his vulnerability.
“I wanted to be honest about it… I feel like now’s the right time to do it,” the hitmaker expressed. “I wanted to establish myself as a musician and let my music be the first connecting part. I post positive quotes. Every day I pull something positive, it’s a reminder for other people and me,” he added.
Wade chimed in to mention that she has a similar strategy, as she seeks helpful resources to take care of her mental state. The breakout star pointed out the significance of feeding the mind with positive information, surrounding oneself with contagious energy, and creating a supportive inner circle.
“My biggest thing – whether I am on tour or home, I get up and go to the gym. I try to get up and journal in the morning and write down three things I am grateful for. I listen to some positive podcasts, I am constantly reading self-help books and biographies about positive people that have made changes in the world,” she clarified. “I am
trying to surround myself with really positive things, because I know that I can get stuck in my head. If I’m not feeding my mind good things and taking care of myself, that’s when I start to really slip up.”
The fast-rising artist acknowledged that being a truthful and raw storyteller in a male-dominated industry is a challenge in itself. However, she perseveres forward to connect with her devoted community and to lead as a role model. The soul-touching lyrics that convey Wade’s triumphs and tribulations are uncovered in her debut record, “Reckless.”
“At first, it was kind of hard being very vulnerable…especially with your art. It’s already difficult to put your art out there, but to be so vulnerable at the same time,” she said while trying to wrap her head around the task. “I think the biggest thing for me, is that people have connected with that. I think we’re at a time when we really need to hear that other people are struggling and that it’s not just us – we are not alone. There are times that it is hard to say certain things from the past. It shows that people have connected with me, and told me that my music has helped. So, I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do. People are watching me now, I need to be a role model.”
The group of vocalists declared that living in the public eye is overwhelming at times, especially when social media has become a vital tool in the music industry. Wade and Ell told CMT that they challenge themselves to unplug in order to escape the toxicity that networking sites create.
“I want fans to know that this is my life and that they are talking to me on whatever channel they are on,” Ell said about being present on social. “It’s a difficult thing, because I have gone through phases where I say, ‘okay, I’m not going to read any comments.’ But, sometimes, you need to read or engage in the comments. When I get in super mental health spirals, I am just scrolling and I start comparing. When I’m having a really tough day, or I’m emotionally kind of on a roller coaster – I post what I need to post, and then I get the heck off of those things. I think it’s about having a healthy boundary. You can’t let yourself fall victim or fall into the trap of what others think about you.”
Allen declared that the online naysayers tend to light his fire and gives him motivation. He also did not fail to highlight the weight that certain words could hold.
“Here’s my thing with social media,” Allen said with confidence. “It doesn’t control me, I control it. I actually look for the negative comments because it fires me up. It gives me more ammunition to try to be more successful. That person [the social media user] doesn’t control my work ethic. That person doesn’t control how I treat my friends, my family, that person just has their little thoughts and opinions. I refuse to give social media control of my life, feelings, or emotions. Someone could say something to you, and it doesn’t matter because their words are just words.”
While navigating the ever-changing musical landscape – the group has made it a priority to put their health first by scheduling time off and reminding themselves to be grateful.
“We are so quick to forget to learn how to find joy and happiness in a moment,” said Allen. “Take a break and really learn how to speak for yourself, advocate for yourself, body, and mind,” Ell concluded.
If you’re struggling and need to talk to somebody, you’re not alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a free, confidential conversation 24/7. For more ways to take care of your mental health and support others, visit mentalhealthishealth.us.