Q

Rupi Kaur, Josh Groban, Big Sean, David Chang, more featured in new q series on mental health and the arts

Sound of Mind is a week-long series about how artists deal with, and draw from, mental health challenges.

Sound of Mind is a week-long series about how artists deal with, and draw from, mental health challenges

Rupi Kaur, Shawn Mendes, Meichi Ng, Big Sean, Katy Perry, David Chang. (Amrita Singh; Rich Polk; Supplied; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Roc Nation; Liza Voloshin; Facebook)

Music star Lizzo says she has relied on music to make her happy — and when that began to fail, she turned to therapy.

Shawn Mendes sings about his experience of anxiety in his hit single In My Blood.

In a new set of essays, Rachel Bloom, star and co-creator of the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, has written a collection of essays about her battle with OCD and depression.

Big Sean took a three-year break from music to tackle his mood problems, and returned with his most honest album yet.

Sound of Mind is a new week-long series about mental health and the arts. (CBC)

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, by age 40, roughly 50 per cent of people will have experienced mental illness — and artists, no matter their level of stardom, are not exempt.

But there is one thing that sets artists apart: many channel their experience into their work, and in the process, help legions of fans to better understand and navigate their own emotional challenges.

In a week-long series called Sound of Mind: Mental Health and the Arts, CBC's q is exploring the multitude of ways that artists deal with, and draw from, mental health issues.

From pop star Katy Perry to celebrity chef David Chang, and from comedian Ricky Gervais to bestselling poet Rupi Kaur, the interviews explore the relationship between mental health and the arts through feature interviews, excerpts and encore broadcasts.

Here is what you will hear — and links to the episodes will be added to this page daily:


Monday, Nov. 30

Musician Forrest Eaglespeaker, actress Rose McGowan, actress, author and singer-songwriter Rachel Bloom, actress and author Margaret Trudeau. (Matt Braden, Getty Images, Robyn Von Swank, Kirsten Miccoli)

INTERVIEW: Blackfoot roots singer Forrest Eaglespeaker has just released a new album with his duo The North Sound, and the songs chronicle his battle with alcohol addiction, as well as his path to sobriety. In this feature interview, he talks about using music to cope with addiction, and about the effects of Indigenous intergenerational trauma.

In a new book of essays, Rachel Bloom, star and co-creator of TV's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, writes about fame, insecurity and living with OCD and depression. (Scott Everett White/The Associated Press)

EXCERPT: Actress Rose McGowan uses music to create a vision of a new planet, where she can escape her past trauma.

INTERVIEW: Actress Rachel Bloom, star and co-creator of TV's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, writes about fame, insecurity and living with OCD and depression in her hilarious new collection of essays, I Want To Be Where The Normal People Are.

ENCORE: In the 1970s, Margaret Trudeau was married to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, partying with the Rolling Stones, and dancing the night away at Studio 54. What nobody knew — including herself — was that she had bipolar disorder. In 2010, she wrote a best-selling memoir and became an outspoken advocate for mental health. That story became Certain Woman of an Age, a one-woman show that's now available as an audiobook.  


Tuesday, Dec. 1

Musician, writer and visual artist Vivek Shraya, singer-songwriter and rapper Lizzo, singer-songwriter Josh Groban, actor and comedian Ricky Gervais. (Vanessa Heins, Vivian Rashotte/CBC, Getty Images, Getty Images for Netflix)

INTERVIEW: If it's an artistic medium, Calgary-based musician, author and visual artist Vivek Shraya has probably mastered it. But as this pandemic wears on, she's found that sometimes the best way to practice good mental hygiene is to step away — even from one's own art. 

EXCERPT: Lizzo has long relied on music to make her happy — but when that began to falter, she turned to therapy for a deeper understanding of her mental health.

INTERVIEW: Singer Josh Groban talks about why making his new album Harmony while in isolation was therapeutic, and how's he kept his spirits up during these dark times.

ENCORE: Comedian Ricky Gervais is best known as the creator of The Office and Extras, and as the bitingly funny host of the Golden Globes. In this unforgettable interview, Gervais talks about laughing through tears in his Netflix show After Life, and about his character Tony, a small-time journalist who chooses kindness as a salve for his loneliness and grief.


Wednesday, Dec. 2

Poet Rupi Kaur, artist Meichi Ng, singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes, rapper Big Sean. (Baljit Singh, HarperCollins Canada, Rich Polk, Universal Music)

INTERVIEW: Rupi Kaur has been able to reach millions of people by sharing her short, visual poetry on Instagram. She's now a number one New York Times bestselling author, and last year The New Republic named her the "Writer of the Decade". Rupi Kaur talks about how internet culture and sudden fame impacted her mental health, and how writing Home Body, a book which she calls a love letter to the self, helped her find her voice again.

INTERVIEW: In her hilarious and heart-wrenchingly honest book Barely Functional Adult: It'll All Make Sense Eventually, Meichi Ng tackles topics including therapy, murder, friendship, wrinkles, exes, melodrama, being really bad at stuff, pettiness and other wonderfully human delights. The artist talks about how processing tough emotions through comics and sharing them has helped her mental health —  and helped other "barely functioning adults" feel a little less lonely. 

EXCERPT: On the heels of a new album, we revisit Shawn Mendes reflecting on his choice to sing about his own anxiety in his hit single In My Blood.

ENCORE: Big Sean is known for making feel-good music with hip-hop heavyweights like Kanye West and Drake. But what happens when the artist behind the feel-good songs is depressed? Big Sean talks about his struggle with mental health and how taking a three-year break from the industry led to his most honest album yet. 


Thursday, Dec. 3

Celebrity chef David Chang, singer-songwriter Katy Perry, hip-hop scholar Dr. Mark Anthony Neal. (Andrew Bezek, Liza Voloshin, Duke University)

INTERVIEW: David Chang is the chef and founder of Momofuku — the New York noodle bar that spawned a restaurant empire — as well as the host of Netflix's Ugly Delicious, and a bestselling cookbook author. In his memoir, Eat A Peach, Chang opens up about his personal struggles — including his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, his anger, and his thoughts of suicide.

ENCORE: With 13 Grammy nominations, billions of streams and millions of records sold, Katy Perry is one of the most successful pop stars of all time — but not everything is perfect at the top. In this encore interview, Perry talks about the sadness she feels singing her happy songs, and how lonely it can be at the top. 

INTERVIEW: Dr. Mark Anthony Neal is a hip-hop scholar and professor of Black Popular Culture at Duke University. He joins Tom Power for a chat about hip-hop's relationship with mental health, and how the music and culture has grappled with the topic over the decades.


Friday, Dec. 4

Singer-songwriter, Alanis Morissette, rapper TOBi, the q this music panel, musician Menno Versteeg, actor Ahmed Best. (Shelby Duncan, TOBi/Facebook, Kate Dockeray, Ahmed Best/Twitter)

EXCERPT: Alanis Morissette found intense fame at a very early age and has been spent her life grappling with how to heal from some deep wounds.

INTERVIEW: Breakout musician TOBi is using his new album ELEMENTS Vol. 1 to examine mental wellness and vulnerability as a way to heal from trauma.  It's a continuation of his work as a counselor in conflict resolution and family mediation. As he says in this interview, 2020 is a year we need to heel from, especially members of the Black community.

INTERVIEW: Hollerado lead singer Menno Versteeg joins Tom Power for a chat about his record label Royal Mountain. They started a wellness fund for artists on the roster, and he talks about the progress they've made and where they hope to go from here.

ENCORE: Ahmed Best still feels connected to the role of Jar Jar Binks, which he performed over 20 years ago — not only because it was a performance  he really cared about, but because the backlash created a low point in his life. In light of Star Wars actor John Boyega's recent calls to action for the franchise to support its BIPOC cast members, we're revisiting this urgent conversation.


If you need mental health support, visit Crisis Services Canada for the distress centres and crisis organizations nearest you. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7) or text 45645 (4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET).

If you are in distress and you are located in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free and confidential support at 1-800-273-8255 (24/7).

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