When Hayley Kiyoko found herself struggling with mental health issues for the the first time, like many others, the pop star felt alone.
"I felt really isolated at the time, and had to take a step back to really focus on giving myself space for self-care," Kiyoko tells Bustle. "I wasn’t so upfront about it in the beginning, but I found that sharing my experience with others helped me find mutual support."
While one in five adults in the U.S experience mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), it’s still not a topic that’s easy for everyone to talk about. This year’s World Mental Health Day on October 10, a day organized by the World Federation for Mental Health, spreading awareness is top of mind, especially when it comes to the role that each of us can play to help prevent suicide.
Recently, Kiyoko appeared in an Ad Council video for Suicide Prevention Day as part of their "Seize the Awkward" campaign — which provides various resources to help young people have those tough conversations with friends who may be facing mental health issues — where she opened up about her experience with depression and how her support system played a role in helping her overcome a tough time.
Kiyoko says it was important for her to do this video to show people they aren’t alone. "Depression affects people from all walks of life and opening up about these issues can only help bring awareness to these issues," Kiyoko says.
But it’s not the first time Kiyoko has been publicly open about depression. She’s been upfront about mental health with her followers on social media too.
"My fans are my biggest inspiration and have continued to be so supportive — not just of me but of each other," Kiyoko says. "So many of us are struggling with everyday difficulties, and by opening up the conversation about mental health, it’s bringing much needed attention to a problem that affects so many people and is often clouded in shame."
In fact, she says the more mental health is talked about, the more likely people can overcome their struggles or find the help they need.
For Kiyoko, coping strategies often involve journaling, songwriting, creating, therapy, and allowing herself time to recharge. "Life can be overwhelming sometimes, and it’s important to be kind to yourself and know that everyone is going through something even if it might not seem that way on the surface," Kiyoko says.
When Kiyoko was going through a tough time, she says her sister, who she checks in with pretty much every day, was there for her without judgement.
"She knew to ask me the right questions that would make me feel comfortable and safe enough to open up about my depression, which isn’t easy to do," Kiyoko says. "I think that’s a huge reason why someone might avoid speaking up about what they’re going through, because of their fear of being judged or misunderstood." If you think someone close to you is going through a tough time, Kiyoko says a phone call can make a big difference.
If you’re currently going through a tough time, Kiyoko has some actionable advice. "Tell yourself every single morning that you are enough and this struggle will pass. Keep a gratitude list with things you’re grateful for," she says. "Even when everything might seem like it’s falling apart, a small list of things you’re grateful for can help remind you that everything you’re feeling or going through is temporary."
Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.
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