How Shawn Mendes’ Single Helps Break the Stigma of Talking About Mental Health

May 23, 2018

Jessica Morales, 23, was born and raised in Coral Springs, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s in Communicational Studies degree and a minored in commercial music business from Florida Atlantic University. While attending FAU, Jessica participated in a volunteer excursion to Nicaragua, where she helped establish and build an eco-friendly infrastructure and school. Jessica is currently pursuing her career in music, but in her free time, she enjoys baking, going on adventures, listening to live music, and cuddling with her cat, Zuko.

Music has the innate ability to heal the soul when words fail. It has the power to connect and transcend above culture, gender, religion, race, and class. Sometimes when life’s little hiccups and obstacles leave us feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and depressed, music allows us to press pause and be present, providing healing and a way to escape.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year,” and “Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with anxiety are also diagnosed with depression.” Although many Americans are affected by mental illness, a heavy stigma is still associated with discussions on mental health. There is a stigma that being vulnerable and discussing mental issues is a sign of weakness, when in reality, it is a sign of strength.

Shawn Mendes’ hit single, “In My Blood,” is the perfect song to bring awareness and provide strength to those experiencing mental illness. The power pop track starts in a very vulnerable place lyrically and sonically. The song begins with the lyrics: “Help me/It’s like the walls are caving in,” and a fingerpicking electric guitar, immediately creating a place of vulnerability for the listener.

The lyrics in the verses continue to paint imagery of someone struggling with mental illness and wanting to numb themselves: “Laying on the bathroom floor/Feeling nothing/ I’m overwhelmed and insecure/Give me something.” The verses in particular allow the listener to be put into the shoes of someone who is emotionally struggling.  The percussion soon comes in like a pulse, a heartbeat aching to be healed and rid of pain.

What strikes me most about this song is how the verses are so delicate and vulnerable, but then the chorus hits so powerfully, lyrically and instrumentally, refusing to give into the difficult thoughts that plague him: “Sometimes I feel like giving up/But I just can’t/It isn’t in my blood.”

Upon first listen, I couldn’t help but be moved to tears as Mendes’ song appealed to me emotionally. Some days we all feel like giving up, and it takes incredible strength to put one foot in front of the other and persevere through the pain. “In My Blood” is the perfect inspirational track for anyone experiencing mental illness or going through a difficult time in their life. Not only does it shine a light on the realities of those who are battling with depressive thoughts, but it provides hope that we are more than our scars and afflictions.

Songs that bring attention to mental health are extremely important to help lift the stigma and spark discussions on mental health. The fact that a male pop artist chose to release a song about mental health speaks volumes on how we can move forward discussing it openly.  Mental health has no race, class, or gender, and it’s vital that we continue to talk about it so discussions can become normalized in our society.

“In My Blood” reminds us that we are more than our setbacks, and in vulnerability, there is great strength.

Want to hear the track for yourself? Check out “In My Blood” here: