Olly Alexander opens up about his mental health struggles

The Years & Years’ frontman got candid in a new interview with Owen Jones

Mental health has become a major issue here in the UK – particularly among young people. With 33 per cent of students now struggling with suicidal thoughts, and one in ten children suffering from a related disorder, there’s never been a more important time to get candid about our characters. As it currently stands, issues like these will affect one in four people in their lifetime – so why aren’t we being more open about them?

One person keen to spark up the debate is Olly Alexander. The Years & Years’ frontman, who recently admitted to suffering from both anxiety and depression, has opened up to The Guardian’s Owen Jones about his personal experiences with mental illness. “The likelihood is that you or someone you know closely will suffer from a mental health condition in your lifetime,” the singer explained. “It’s like any other part of your body – your mental health gets sick, and it needs treatment.”

“If you’re invited to a party, and you say ‘I’m sick, I can’t go’ – that’s totally accepted. But if you say ‘I’m having a depressive episode, I’ve got to stay in bed’ – that feels much harder to say.”

“It’s part of who I am now – in a positive way. I look at it in a positive way”

Alexander, who is openly gay, also discussed how much of a role his sexuality played in the development of his illness – revealing that he found the two things to be very connected. “Growing up in a straight world is difficult,” he shared. “Once you admit to yourself and the world that you’re gay, there’s an expectation that you put on yourself: you’re fine now, you’ve gone through the whole thing of being gay, and now you have to prove to yourself that you can live a happy life and be happy.”

“That’s something I have struggled with – of course I’m still going to get depressed and have anxiety, but you tell yourself: you’ve struggled enough, you shouldn’t have those feelings!” 

The full interview, which can be seen above, also sees the singer talk about his “horrific” experiences with bullying while growing up, as well as his struggles to seek proper treatment. The conclusion, though, stresses the importance of removing the stigma – with Alexander highlighting that his self-acceptance acted as the best defense. “It’s part of who I am now – in a positive way,” he added. “I look at it in a positive way.”