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The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards Included 11 Winners With Mental Health Conditions

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On Monday, MTV aired its popular Video Music Awards (VMAs) to recognize the year’s musical best. Now in its 36th year, the music awards show included powerful performances and meaningful acceptance speeches from the likes of Missy Elliott, Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, Camilla Cabello, Miley Cyrus, and more.

While the night’s winning artists across categories such as best collaboration, best new artist or video of the year got plenty of recognition for their musical talents, many winners are also been vocal about living with chronic illness or a mental health condition. To recognize these celebrities, here are the 11 VMA winners who also raise awareness for the health community:

1. Ariana Grande

At the VMAs, Ariana Grande took home awards for artist of the year, song of the summer and best art direction. She’s also vocal about struggling with her mental health, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the terror attack after her concert in Manchester, England. On social media you’ll likely find her advocating for therapy, sharing depression information and calling out people who make fun of living with mental illness.

2. Bebe Rexha

Singer Bebe Rexha revealed she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in April. When she shared the news on Twitter, she said she wanted to help reduce the stigma about living with a mental illness for herself and others. “I’m not ashamed anymore,” she tweeted. At the VMAs Rexha took home a moon person trophy for best dance for her collaboration with the Chainsmokers, “Call You Mine.” 

3. Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish took home the VMA for best new artist, along with two other wins for her breakout hits such as “Bad Guy.” From the beginning, Eilish shared her mental health history, which includes self-harm and depression. In May Eilish filmed a PSA in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention called “Seize the Awkward” to encourage people to seek help. Eilish also has Tourette syndrome, a neuropsychiatric disorder that causes tics — uncontrollable repetitive movements and vocalizations.

4. Brendon Urie (Panic! at the Disco)

Rock band Panic! at the Disco, helmed by Brendon Urie, earned a VMA for “High Hopes.” In 2016, Urie revealed how living with anxiety has impacted his life. He told Kerrang in an interview he finds crowded public spaces anxiety-inducing, and said his anxiety was “so painful I can’t even describe.”

5. BTS

RM and Suga, two members of the K-pop band BTS, shared in a March interview with Entertainment Weekly how being open about depression is important for the band — and for others who live with the condition. “If they talk about depression for example like it’s the common cold, then it becomes more and more accepted if it’s a common disorder,” Suga said. BTS earned two VMAs, including best group.

6. Camila Cabello

On Friday, Camila Cabello took to social media to share the breathing and meditation techniques she uses to manage her anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In other social media posts, the “Havana” singer openly discusses finding support for living with anxiety and encourages others to do the same. At the VMAs, Cabello earned two VMAs with Shawn Mendes for their collaboration “Señorita.”

7. Drew Taggart (The Chainsmokers)

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songwriting is my therapy. i dealt with depression for what most would call the height of the chainsmokers career thus far. you’d think that an artist getting their first massive break and seeing success in a career they love would have no problems, but that’s the funny thing about depression. it’s doesn’t matter what you’ve accomplished because it attacks how you feel about it. your resumé won’t save you. i didn’t begin to feel better until i began putting my feelings into my songs. this explains the sudden dark introspective turn the chainsmokers music took earlier this year with the release of songs like “sick boy” and “everybody hates me” etc. maybe this isn’t the chainsmokers you all wanted and that’s ok, but it’s what we needed to create to grow. that chapter isn’t closed by any means but i do feel like i’ve gotten something off my chest, i’m not hiding my feelings behind a smile when i don’t feel like it anymore. “This Feeling” is the first song i wrote when i came out of my depressed state for the first time. it’s a song about following your heart even when people don’t believe in you. mentally i’m in a good place right now. i’m in love with my friends and family and thank god everyday that i get to write songs for a living. i hope y’all enjoy this one.

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One-half of the dance duo The Chainsmokers, Drew Taggert got candid about needing support for his depression diagnosis even while his career was at a high point. “That’s the funny thing about depression. It doesn’t matter what you’ve accomplished because it attacks how you feel about it,” Taggert wrote on Instagram. The Chainsmokers were recognized at the VMAs for best collaboration alongside Rexha. 

8. Halsey

Singer Halsey lives with bipolar disorder and endometriosis. She’s a vocal advocate for both conditions, and was given the Endometriosis Foundation of America’s 2018 Blossom Award. Halsey earned a VMA for best K-pop as the featured artist on BTS’ winning track “Boy With Luv.”

9. Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott brought the house down at the VMAs with a career-spanning performance before accepting the Video Vanguard Award. But there was a pause in Elliott’s career after she was diagnosed with Grave’s disease in 2008, an autoimmune condition that causes an overactive thyroid. When she made her comeback in 2015, Elliott revealed her Grave’s diagnosis, how it impacted her life and the resulting anxiety.

10. Nick Jonas

The Jonas Brothers made their first appearance together at the VMAs in more than a decade, which resulted in a win for best pop for their new track, “Sucker.” Nick Jonas, the youngest famous brother, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the height of the band’s initial success. He also revealed in an interview with HuffPost that the year prior to getting back together, all three brothers went to therapy.

11. Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes wrote the hit song “In My Blood” as a response to his anxiety. In 2018, Mendes shared he manages his anxiety by talking with his loved ones and focusing on the self-care activities that help him feel better, like listening to music or “climbing a mountain.” Mendes earned two VMAs — and gave a highly anticipated performance — with Cabello for their collaboration “Señorita.”

Header images via Facebook

Originally published: August 27, 2019
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