American singer-songwriter Hunter Hayes aims to shift the conversation around mental health and help people deal with their anxiety, as an ambassador for leading brain health non-profit One Mind.
Talking about his experience with anxiety, the 29-year-old multi-instrumentalist shared that he did not know he had it at first. He had the symptoms but just shrugged them off and did not associate them with anxiety. But he finally noticed something was wrong when he started having an identity crisis. He also felt the opposite of joy when he turned his love for music into a profession.
“I had this misunderstanding of the word anxiety. I almost dismissed the word because I didn’t think that was the case. I knew that I wasn’t functioning at 100%, but I had no idea that I could allow myself to use that word,” Hayes said in an interview with Forbes.
“Once I made the connection, or had that realisation and accepted that as a truth, I started to realise how much it was tied to everything else in my life,” he continued adding, “At the end of the day, understanding myself is the best gift I can give myself.”
Therapy and making music helped Hayes deal with his anxiety. His new album, “Red Sky,” is a “record of his personal growth.”
Music, for one, has been a great source of healing for the organisation, according to One Mind President Brandon Staglin. He said it “has been from the very beginning part and parcel” to the organisation’s DNA and that it “brings people together in a celebratory mindset.”
It has helped him with his own mental health struggle back when he was 18 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Staglin said he would have his favourite songs played to put him back in a “more positive frame of mind and re-engage with reality.” Today he practices and plays the guitar at least once a week to aid with his recovery and for his mental health.
“We hope to be able to work with him in a way so that more young people will know that they are part of a community, that they are strong, that they can celebrate their successes, and share their challenges with mental health,” Staglin said of Hayes’ role as One Mind Champion.
Hayes and Staglin hope to build a community in One Mind where people can understand that recovery is possible for those suffering from mental health issues. The singer especially wants to create safe spaces with his music for people suffering from anxiety and loneliness.