Justin Bieber being open about his mental health will help youth, experts say

Justin Bieber took to Instagram to tell his fans he needs time away from his music career to focus on 'deep rooted issues.' Mental health experts say when celebrities like Bieber speak out about their feelings, it can help other people and, in particular, youth start a conversation about themselves.

Bieber tells fans he needs to focus on himself 'so I don't fall apart'

Justin Bieber is seen here performing during his Purpose World Tour in 2016. He says he needs to take a break from his music career to focus on himself. Speaking out about his mental health may help others do the same, experts say. (Associated Press)

When Justin Bieber announced on Instagram he was going to take a step back from his career for a bit to focus on himself, he received a lot of comments begging him not to do it.

In the post on March 25, the Stratford-born singer-songwriter wrote that he was unhappy during his last tour.

"I don't deserve that and you don't deserve that, you pay money to come and have a lively energetic fun light concert and I was unable emotionally to give you that near the end of the tour," he wrote.

"I am now very focused on repairing some of the deep rooted issues that I have as most of us have, so that I don't fall apart."

'A very strong influence'

It's that honesty about mental health that resonates with others who may be struggling, particularly youth, says Meredith Gardiner, a director of services for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington.

"Anytime somebody comes forward and helps reduce stigma around mental health, it's a positive outcome," Gardiner said.

"We know celebrities absolutely have an influence, and Justin Bieber has a very strong influence on a population of young kids."

She said when people read Bieber's social media posts, they can identify with him.

"Part of his message is to be reaching out for help and getting help and that's OK, then it's absolutely a very, very positive thing for sure," she said. "That's positive regardless of how old you are."

Lady Gaga, seen here in a scene from the Netflix documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two, has been open about her own mental health and started the Born This Way Foundation. (Courtesy of Netflix)

'Far above adults'

Sheryl Boswell is the executive director of Youth Mental Health Canada in Toronto, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to education and advocacy.

She was leading a workshop with Grade 7 and 8 students this week. She said while Bieber's Instagram post didn't seem to resonate with them, other celebrities did, such as Lady Gaga, Demar DeRozan, Dwayne Johnson and Selena Gomez.

"There were different people who resonated with each one of them," Boswell said.

Some of the celebrities are taking speaking out further, she said.

Lady Gaga has the Born This Way Foundation.

This week, the family of Avicci, the DJ-producer who died by suicide on April 20, 2018, launched a mental health foundation in his name called the Tim Bergling Foundation.

"Those are really important, where you're going beyond talk into action that supports community," Boswell said.

It's really over the last five years that the conversation about youth mental health has opened up, largely because youth want to talk about it, she said.

She said in most cases, the conversation around mental health is more normalized among youth than older generations.

"Their vocabulary and awareness of mental health is far above adults," she said. "There's a lot of people in a lot of pain for a lot of reasons."

We need to "talk about suicide, and suicide prevention and talk openly and stop the silencing of issues," she said.

Boswell added we also need to tell youth, "We value your lives."

Justin Bieber opens up on Instagram about struggles with mental health

3 years ago
Duration 2:41
Justin Bieber has opened up to his fans on Instagram about his struggles with mental health. We have more on the way social media is changing the conversation around youth and mental health.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?