Shawn Mendes opens up about anxiety and his producer's gender transition

Shawn Mendes's musical success has been transformative, he says, not just professionally but personally as well.

Canadian pop star on mental health: 'Hopefully 10 years from now, we have better ways of dealing with it'

Shawn Mendes, 19, has skyrocketed to pop stardom with three successful albums, including his latest self-titled work, which he says forced him to overcome fear and anxiety. (Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

Shawn Mendes's new single In My Blood, the first release from his latest self-titled album, delves into a topic the Canadian pop star wants to talk more about: overcoming fear and anxiety.

​"The thing about anxiety is that it comes in phases and it's different for everybody," he told CBC Radio's Tom Power, host of q. "In a moment when I was having it, I wrote a song about it and I'm great right now."

The song lyrics, however, show a different side of the teen: "Help me, it's like the walls are caving in. Sometimes I feel like giving up, no medicine is strong enough."

Mendes, 19, has gone from playing cover songs in his bedroom on social media to playing for sold-out crowds at arenas in less than five years. While his cohorts are still figuring out a direction after high school, he's kicking off a world tour this summer and recently played for the Queen's 92nd birthday celebrations.

But that doesn't mean he's immune to the challenges many face. Recognizing his unique platform, the singer-songwriter says maintaining a conversation about a difficult subject reduces stigma.

Mendes performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London April 21 for a concert to celebrate the Queen's 92nd birthday. (Andrew Parsons/Pool via The Associated Press)

"The only way progression is going to happen is by talking about it and by allowing everybody to talk about it," he said. "It just becomes more of a normal thing and hopefully in 10 years from now, nobody is really worried about it. Hopefully 10 years from now we have better ways of dealing with it, because people talk about it and they don't suppress it."

It's also why he's keeping another dialogue going when it comes to his producer and longtime friend Teddy Geiger's transition from male to female. Geiger wrote Mendes's hit Stitches and they went on to co-write more songs, including Treat You Better, Mercy and In My Blood.

Teddy Geiger, a longtime friend who co-wrote Mercy and Treat You Better with Mendes, recently transitioned from male to female. (Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

"It was such a big moment — and the biggest thing that happened in her life — as we were creating the biggest album of my life. So there was so much energy and so much emotion that I think it actually fuelled the fire of creating the album."

In the video below, Mendes explains the "joy" that Geiger showed after the singer used the pronoun "she" for the first time.

Shawn Mendes on producer Teddy Geiger's gender transition

4 years ago
Duration 0:45
Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes talks about close friend Teddy Geiger's emotional and physical journey

More of the interview with Shawn Mendes will air Sunday on The National at 9 p.m. on CBC News Network, 10 p.m. on CBC Television, and Monday on CBC Radio 1's q.

With files from q's Tom Power