Photo by: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Didi Hirsch
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and like many people, celebrities have been open about their mental health and being advocates for those in need.
Singer Jhené Aiko is joining the fight and is using her celebrity status to help.
The city of Los Angeles recently declared May to be “Mental Health Is Health Month,” and Aiko was named the official ambassador for the cause.
The Grammy winner accepted the award during an event at city hall on Friday, where she spoke about her personal mental health struggles and the need to de-stigmatize mental illness.
“When I started to write and do music, it was my personal therapy to help me get through things,” the 34-year-old singer revealed during the ceremony.
“I didn’t know about therapy, I didn’t know a lot about mental illness or depression or anxiety. And I just found that turning my pain and suffering into some form of art, transforming it into art, really helped me get through it. It helped me to realize that the reason why I do what I do is to help others get through what they’re going through.”
Aiko has been open about her prior struggles with addiction and anxiety. The 34-year-old singer revealed her life-long mental health difficulties in an Instagram post in March 2021.
“I’ve spent most of my life being extremely sensitive, drained, and nervous when around a lot of people and/or multiple energies at once,” she expressed.
“I’ve spent most of my life with crippling insecurity…feeling awkward and shy in front of cameras and audiences. I’ve spent most of my life not understanding that my anxiety was causing a downward spiral, self-medicating and self-sabotage. … I will never be perfect, nor do I ever want to be seen as such, but when u see me, know u are looking at a fighter. And I know u are fighting too. So when u see me I hope you also see you.”
The proclamation of ‘Mental Health Is Health Month’ was a joint initiative by Council member Nithya Raman’s office and Didi Hirsch, a suicide prevention and mental health care expert.
According to the organization, two people die by suicide every day in Los Angeles; in the past year, almost 10% of residents pondered suicide, while nearly 14% suffered significant psychological distress—an worrisome trend that has been observed across the country.
The alarming statistics don’t stop there, according to Hirsch’s research over the past 12 months, the Suicide Prevention Center’s Crisis Line has received approximately 136,000 calls, texts, and chats, marking a 13 percent spike.
“Over the past few years we have seen mental health issues skyrocket—in large part due to the pandemic—affecting the lives of Angelenos regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status,” Raman said.
Raman added, “I am so proud to partner with Didi Hirsch, which has a long-standing commitment to the local Los Angeles community, to proclaim May as Mental Health is Health Month, and ensure that anyone struggling with mental health is connected with the support and resources they need.”
In an Instagram post, Aiko vowed to share her mental health journey with fans.
“Life can get tough, but no one should have to go through any of it alone,” she stated. “Let’s open our hearts and ears to one another, share our stories and support each other in this human experience we call life… and together we can make it a bit easier💙 I will continue to share my mental health journey and well being practices through my poetry and music in hopes to help others on their mental health journey.”