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20 Songs to Listen to During Mental Health Awareness Month

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and what better way to celebrate than to recognize musicians and songs that address mental health and illness?  

Music has always been a therapeutic tool for me, and I have found that connecting with songs and artists that are open about mental health and illness makes me feel seen and comforted.  With that being said, I have created a playlist for you of some of my favorite songs that are by musicians who are open about their mental illnesses, or those close to them who struggle with their mental health. Some of these songs are explicit and can be triggering, so please listen with caution.

The first featured artist on my playlist is Yungblud, also known as Dominic Richard Harrison.  Yungblud has frequently been open about his struggle with depression and anxiety, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and numerous of his songs have been featured in the “13 Reasons Why” series.  I have to admit that I only discovered Yungblud recently, but I was immediately intrigued by his explicit songs that address such things as using psychiatric medication and abusing substances, while also providing support for those who are struggling with their mental health.  Yungblud’s unique voice and lyrics made me feel close to him, and I have been listening to him on repeat lately because of how comforting I have found his music to be.

I am also including a song by Machine Gun Kelly and Yungblud called “I think I’m OKAY” which was the first song that introduced me to Yungblud.

As a side note, Machine Gun Kelly’s most recent album “Tickets to My Downfall” and his related YouTube movie “Downfalls High” are excellent and highly emotional. Machine Gun Kelly, also known as Colson Baker, has recently been open about his own mental health struggles and has described this album as his “diary” (“Celebretainment,” 2021).  This is probably why I like it so much because it is raw and honest in the most conceivable way.

1. “I think I’m OKAY” by Machine Gun Kelly and Yungblud (explicit)

TRIGGER WARNING: substance abuse, depression, paranoia

This song is very important to me because I relate to the themes of substance abuse, depression, and paranoia so well.  It is brutally honest, and I truly admire Machine Gun Kelly and Yungblud for being so vulnerable.

2. “Medication” by Yungblud

TW: anxiety, substance abuse

This song is incredibly insightful into Yungblud’s struggle with anxiety and his search for relief through medication, substances and technology. The music video depicts what Yungblud experiences in his mind, and I found it to be very relatable.

3. “God Save Me, But Don’t Drown Me Out” by Yungblud (explicit)

TW: depression, substance abuse

While this song, and its music video, depict what depression feels like to Yungblud, it is also an anthem of hope for anyone struggling with their mental health.  I feel like this song is a healing hug and I can’t get enough of it.  I hope it brings you as much comfort as it has me.

4. “Kill Somebody” by Yungblud

TW: depression, anxiety, suicidal themes

This song is particularly triggering, but equally important.  In the lyrics and the music video Yungblud depicted his darkest moments with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.  While the song may seem scary and homicidal, it is actually a raw look inside of Yungblud’s struggle with his mental health and suicidal thoughts— and how the truth behind mental illness is not often pleasant and can be scary for those struggling.

5. “Weird!” by Yungblud (explicit)

TW: anxiety

While this song addresses anxiety, it also discusses general mental health concerns and serves as a comforting reassurance that everything is going to be alright.  I hold this song close to my heart because of how comforting and sensitive it is.

6. “Dancing with the Devil” by Demi Lovato

TW: addiction

Demi Lovato is another artist I highlighted, due to her authentic struggle with bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse.  I admire how Demi has become an activist for mental health and frequently addresses her struggle in her music.

Demi reveals a beautiful, honest portrait of what it is like to struggle with addiction and maintain recovery in this gorgeous song.  Her storytelling skills are excellent, and I found that this song really resonated with me.

7. “Anyone” by Demi Lovato

TW: addiction, depression

Demi has revealed that she wrote this song a few days before her overdose in 2018, which makes it even more vital.  It is a cry for help from debilitating mental illness symptoms and incredibly relatable for anyone struggling with their mental health.

8. “Sober” by Demi Lovato

TW: addiction

Like the two songs I highlighted by Demi Lovato above, this song addresses her struggle with addiction and sobriety.  However, it is also an apology to those she loves, which I found to be heartbreaking but so important.

9. “Total Revenge” by Say Anything

TW: therapy, heartbreak, bipolar disorder

The last primary artist I featured is Max Bemis of the band Say Anything.

Max has been open about his struggle with substance abuse and bipolar disorder, and the songs I included are deeply emotional and address mental health in unique ways.

I found this song to be relatable to me as someone with borderline personality disorder.  I struggle with feeling suicidal after a relationship ends, and this song pretty much sums up what I experience when I am in a relationship, longing for a relationship or losing a relationship.  However, it also explores Max Bemis’s struggle with bipolar disorder and his mental instability when it comes to relationships.

10. “Cemetery” by Say Anything

TW: suicide

While this song addresses Max Bemis’s struggle with suicidal ideation, it also is a song about someone who has given him hope.  I find this song to be a beacon of optimism that there is so much worth living for in this life, and connection is so important for mental health.

Other notable artists and bands featured are Paramore, Rise Against, Good Charlotte, Florence + The Machine, and Tickle Me PinkThe songs I highlighted address such sensitive topics as substance and abuse and overdose as well as living with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

11. “Madeline” by Tickle Me Pink

TW: overdose, suicide, depression

Out of all of the songs I’ve featured in this playlist, this song is by far the most difficult to listen to. The song is about a girl named Madeline who committed suicide, and the singer’s regret about not being there for her when he knew she was depressed.  It is incredibly heartbreaking, but a beautiful portrait of the aftereffects of suicide.

12. “Otherside” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

TW: overdose, addiction

In 1988, Hillel Slovak– the founder and guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers– died of a drug overdose.  This song addresses drug addiction and the afterlife in a haunting, yet beautiful, way.

13. “Hold On” by Good Charlotte

TW: depression, suicidal ideation

This song is a song of hope for anyone struggling with their mental health and contemplating suicide. I found this song to be very empathetic and comforting.

14. “Make It Stop” by Rise Against

TW: suicide, homophobia

As another sensitive song, Rise Against addressed the suicide epidemic amongst youth in the LGBTQIA+ community.  It is heart wrenching, but its message about homophobia is so important.

15. “Fake Happy” by Paramore

TW: depression, anxiety, general mental health concerns

“Fake Happy” is generally about how we have to pretend like we are okay when we are struggling with our mental health, because that is what the world expects of us.  However, it also acknowledges how exhausting this becomes.

16. “Hunger” by Florence + The Machine

TW: eating disorders, substance abuse

This poetic song addresses searching for love in several ways, such as struggling with an eating disorder, while also abusing substances.  It addresses how sometimes we feel an emptiness inside that we try to fill in diverse ways, but how that can often become harmful.

The last artists I included in my playlist are fairly newcomers Jxdn, Nessa Barrett and Lil Huddy.  These three artists rose to fame through TikTok but have gone on to work with stars such as Travis Barker and Machine Gun Kelly.  All three of these young artists have been open about their struggles with mental health, and I have frequently been appreciative of their vulnerability– especially at such young ages.

17. “Better Off” Dead by Jxdn

TW: depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation

This song addresses heartbreak as well as struggling with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. It is raw and real in really sensitive ways.  Please listen with caution.

18. “La Di Die” by Nessa Barrett and Jxdn

TW: substance abuse, depression, general mental health struggles 

Nessa Barrett has been open about her struggles with mental health for quite some time, and I found that this song is very revealing into how she is dealing with newfound fame while managing her mental illnesses.  Jxdn’s portion of the song also addresses his depression, which compliments Nessa’s haunting lyrics well.

19. “Pray” by Jxdn

TW: substance abuse, suicidal ideation

While this song is particularly startling as it addresses suicidal ideation openly, it also addresses substance abuse and trying to find hope and meaning in life while living with mental illness. I love how the song comes full circle with Jxdn asking god to not let him die in his sleep, which reveals a moment of faith and perseverance amidst his struggle.

20. “America’s Sweetheart” by LilHuddy (explicit)

TW: depression, heartbreak

On the surface, this song is about heartbreak, but when analyzed deeper it is open and honest about struggling with depression and loneliness.  LilHuddy, also known as Chase Hudson, has addressed his history with suicidal ideation and that is also a theme I found to be present in this song.

I hope that my playlist resonates with you and that you feel connected, heard and understood.  Music is such a powerful way to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, and I am so thankful to these artists for being vulnerable about their own mental health struggles, or the mental health struggles of those close to them.  The more awareness we have, the more we can support each other and improve the care available.  Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! I see you.

Check out this playlist on The Mighty’s Spotify account.

Lead image courtesy of respective artists’ YouTube channels.

Originally published: May 14, 2021
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