Student artists, musicians find healing in creative outlets

Many artists suffer from mental illnesses including Kid Cudi who sings about his depression. Kid Cudi performs at the Lollapalooza Music Festival in Grant Park on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, in Chicago. Associated Press

By Jhefferson Blunt | Contributor

Recently, the conversation about mental health has focused on self-care. The medical community with social media have begun emphasizing the importance of maintaining a healthy state of mind. The musically talented community has found a way to deal with mental health issues.

Mental instability in the musical community has become a trend, and many musical artists use their art as a coping mechanism through self-expression. For example, rap artist Kanye West used his music express the grief over losing his mother in his album “808’s and Heartbreak” amidst his other works. Alternative rap artist Kid Cudi expresses his battles with depression in his music and prominent rap artist Kendrick Lamar has spoken out about his alcoholism in his songs.

Authors Sally Gross and Dr. George Musgrave conducted a study titled “Can Music Make you Sick? Music and Depression,” in which they found that 68.5 percent of artists believe they’ve experienced depressions. Seventy-one percent of artists believe they’ve suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. Many artists believe that their art is the only means of expression through which they can be honest about themselves and their struggles. Baylor students use their talents and abilities to express some of their own struggles in their art.

Houston freshman Sion Firew has always used art as her truest means of expression.

“For as long as I can remember, music has been my form of comfort,” Firew said. “When I started writing music myself, I found myself pouring my thoughts and feelings into my lyrics rather than speaking to those around me about how I feel. For me, the idea of opening up to people has always been intimidating, which makes it very difficult for me to trust people.”

Firew expressed a fear of revealing too much about herself that plagues the artist community which she remedies through her own art. Firew said that there is a stigma surrounding mental health and emotional expression that often prevents artists, and people in general, from being open about the way that they feel or even who they are.

“I am able to be completely and utterly myself, portraying stories, love, sadness and any other thoughts or emotions I may have through my art, Firew said. “I am able to create melodies that align with the emotions behind my lyrics and I am able to heal any hurt through my own music.”

This theme of non-disclosure is a is a theme that those affected by mental health tend to adopt when it comes to dealing with their conditions. For artists, sometimes their art is the only outlet they have.

Allen sophomore Serena McArthur said that musicianship was one of her only acceptable means of expression.

“Growing up, I wasn’t taught to express my emotions outwardly. Where I’m from, you recognize your problems, analyze them and figure out how to deal with it,” McArthur said. “I didn’t have the luxury of brooding over depression, anger, or any of that. So, when I started making music, that was my outlet. That was the only place where I could talk about how I really felt. It became a therapy to me. Honestly, without it I would have gone crazy. I still could.”

Music is meant to not only be a tool used by artists, but a genuine expression of themselves. Through validation of their art, artists find validation of their emotions and that allows them a feeling of inclusion and closure that they may not otherwise have.

El Paso senior Christian Broussard said music was a remedy to his darkest emotions.

“The fact that people can relate to my art helps me to understand that I’m not crazy. It helps me to realize that I’m not alone in everything that I go through and that it’s okay to have these feelings,” Broussard said. “It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay not to be okay and because I’ve been able to learn that, because I’ve found so much support in the community of my art, I can honestly say that I’m okay now.”