10 women artists who navigated mental health struggles through music
One thing that comforts us when we’re feeling sad, alone or misunderstood is listening to artists who aren’t afraid to get real about mental health struggles in their music.
Particularly, several women in the scene have poured their hearts out in their lyrics, talking about dealing with mental health disorders, trauma, suicidal thoughts and more.
Because March is Women’s History Month, we decided to identify 10 women who have gotten real about mental health struggles in their music. If you struggle with anxiety, depression or just feeling alone, these ladies definitely can relate to what you’re going through.
Phoebe Bridgers' songs are like a stream of her consciousness, touching on everything from her abusive relationship with Ryan Adams on “Motion Sickness” to dealing with impostor syndrome on “Kyoto.” While her lyrics aren’t outright about mental health disorders, she isn’t afraid to let the world know what she’s thinking, even if it makes sense to no one but herself.
Halsey has never been quiet about their life experiences and how they’ve affected their mental health, including sexual assault, trauma and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Their most recent album, Manic, is like getting a glimpse inside the singer's brain, particularly in songs such as “Forever … (is a long time)” and “929.”
Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams has never shied away from getting real about mental health in her songs. The band’s most recent album, After Laughter, features songs such as “Fake Happy” and “Rose-Colored Boy,” which talk about dealing with depression, anxiety and other hopeless feelings in a world that pressures you to be optimistic. Additionally, in Williams’ solo projects, including songs such as “Simmer” and “Leave It Alone,” she digs deep into her feelings about grief, trauma and depression.
Rina Sawayama isn’t afraid to explain her feelings about the world around her—whether it’s getting pissed off about climate change, writing a love letter to her chosen LGBTQIA+ family, feelings displaced as an immigrant or her mental health struggles. Just listen to “Akasaka Sad,” a song about being depressed and feeling like it will never go away, or “Love Me 4 Me,” which is an honest look at struggling to love yourself.
Breakout star Maggie Lindemann has written songs that encapsulate the feeling of anxiety and wanting to find an escape. In songs such as “Human,” she wishes she could be someone who's optimistic and happy but can’t. And in “Would I,” she gets candid about feeling depressed, being numbed with drugs and wanting to find a way out.
Being thrust into the spotlight as a teen isn't easy, especially when you’re as big of a star as Billie Eilish. However, despite the fame, Eilish has managed to stay true to who she is and express herself through her emotion-filled songs. “everything i wanted” is about a nightmare she had where she killed herself and everyone turned their backs on her.
Avril Lavigne has written plenty of lighthearted, upbeat tracks, but she’s also gotten real about both her physical and mental health. “Head Above Water” is all about perseverance and the feelings she went through as she battled Lyme disease, where she was fighting to make it through. Additionally, in the 2004 track “Nobody’s Home,” Lavigne gets frank about feeling depressed, hopeless and like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
Clairo’s song “Alewife” is perhaps one of the rawest, heartbreaking depictions of someone being saved from a suicide attempt. Additionally, “I Wouldn’t Ask You” is about needing to be taken care of by a partner when she was in the hospital and feeling isolated and helpless.
girl in red
Norwegian singer-songwriter girl in red is best known for her LGBTQIA+ love songs that are warm and fuzzy, but she’s also released some raw tracks about depression and having suicidal thoughts. That's apparent on tracks such as “4am,” “summer depression” and “dead girl in the pool.”
Soccer Mommy has written tracks about being in emotionally abusive relationships (“Your Dog”), episodes of deep depression (“circle the drain”) and feeling anxiety from sleep paralysis (“crawling in my skin”). Similar to Bridgers, she has the songwriting ability to capture the feeling of what it’s like to be inside her head.
See more: 16 memorable band photos
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
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. You can also reach out to Crisis Text Line by texting GO to 741741.
MentalHealth.gov - Get Immediate Help
ImAlive - Online Crisis Network
International Association For Suicide Prevention - Resources
The Anxiety And Depression Association Of America
The National Alliance On Mental Illness
American Psychiatric Association - Finding Help
National Institute Of Mental Health
American Psychological Association - Psychologist locator
The Trevor Project - A confidential hotline for LGBTQ youth
To Write Love On Her Arms - A nonprofit spreading mental health awareness
Hope For The Day - Suicide prevention and mental health education