[Photo by Ricky Swift]

[Photo by: Ricky Swift/WENN]

Since Chester Bennington's passing last summer, the singer's widow Talinda Bennington has been working to bring attention to mental health issues and helping those dealing with depression realize that it's OK to not be OK.

Read more: Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix “understands the darkness” Chester Bennington faced

She recently took part in the Canadian Event Safety Summit, speaking about mental illness and what she's learned since Chester's death.

“He struggled with addiction and depression, two things I have never struggled with,” Bennington explains. “Over time, I came to learn that taking care of your mental health is, as I said before, as important as taking care of your physical health.

“When Chester died, it was a complete surprise…We had a very dear friend, Chris Cornell, take his life, and I felt OK, Chester sees what Vicky and the kids are going through, and this would never happen. So we went on a family trip…My husband was full of life. He was very excited to be promoting his new album, so he was happy. He gave me his goodbye; he gave my kids his goodbye, and I never saw him again.”

She explains that it began her journey of normalizing mental health and knowing that it's OK to not be OK—and to ask for help when you need it.

For her, it's about working to remind people that “we can seem so normal and so OK,” but things might not be as OK underneath it all.

“[It was] shame that he had just begun to share with me in the couple of months before he died, shame I didn’t even know a person could have,” she says. “So when he passed, and I learned that there were two empty beer bottles in the room, I knew he had relapsed, but I also knew he wasn’t so intoxicated out of his mind like I would have thought. I knew instantly that that drink triggered that shame, triggered a lifetime of unhealthy neural pathways.”

Read more: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda recalls Chester Bennington’s humble talent

Talinda further says that it's important to talk about mental health and help people find ways to cope—and she also explains that Chester's death is nobody's fault. It's due to years of untreated mental health, and that's why awareness is so important.

“As Chester's wife, I can only imagine the things that have gone through my head. 'What did I miss? What could I have done?'” she says.

“As much as social media has been a huge support for me, I do every now and then get people blaming me—straight-up blaming me—for him dying, for not saving him, for mistreating him. Who knows why these people behind their devices are saying these horribly cruel things to me? But, you know, it is a little stab in the heart, but what I have to remember is that it’s not my fault, it’s not my children’s fault, it’s not the band’s faults—it’s nobody’s fault.

“It’s not a fault. It’s years of untreated mental health, which led to substance abuse, which led to unhealthy relationships. By the time I met him, he was ready to be healthier.”

You can listen to the panel discussion in-full below:

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, there is help to be found. Please consider these online resources and talk to your regular doctor about your symptoms:
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
ImAlive – Online Crisis Network
The Anxiety And Depression Association Of America
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Suicide Prevention Initiatives
The Jed Foundation

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