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Singing to a Different Tune: How Logan Lynn Breaks Stigma With Music

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Cory Gunkel

Social Media Manager, The National Council for Behavioral Health

Singing to a Different Tune: How Logan Lynn Breaks Stigma With Music

August 10, 2018 | Mental Health First Aid | Wellness | Comments
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Logan Lynn sometimes has unspeakable thoughts.

The versatile artist, whose music career has spanned more than 20 years, will often experience moments when he can’t quite communicate what he’s thinking, how he feels or why he feels it. It can be a paralyzing and terrifying conundrum, and one that is far too familiar to the millions of people like him who experience depression.

“My depression feels, at times, so great that I can’t even find words to tell someone how I’m feeling … but my pen usually seems to still work,” said Lynn, who has lived experience managing depression, addiction and suicidal ideation.

“I often will write my way out of those times, or I’ll turn on the vocal recorder on my phone, and I’ll speak and scream and cry into that, and then those become songs eventually. It really, for me, is a way of getting the poison out.”

The product of those sessions, where his raw thoughts and emotions are suddenly transformed into music, has powered Lynn’s successful career. As a musician, writer and filmmaker, he uses his dynamic platform as a therapeutic means of self-care and mental health awareness.

The NatCon17 Excellence in Artistic Expression Award winner’s latest album, ADIEU, invites listeners to learn how he manages his suicidal thoughts. It also highlights his recovery from addiction and how he’s coped with past trauma, making ADIEU more than just an album — it’s a cathartic way to reach his audience in a format that resonates with them.

It’s also an opportunity to use music as a vehicle for hope and help when it’s needed the most.

Growing up, it wasn’t Lynn’s church, parents or friends that steered him in the direction of support. It was Debbie Gibson, Paula Abdul, Tiffany and other musicians on the radio who helped shape his formative years.

“Had they stood up at their shows and in their interviews and said, ‘I feel sad, and it’s okay,’ or, ‘This has happened’—giving me permission to also have those feelings—I think they would have reached me early on,” said Lynn. “I would have had some sort of permission to get help earlier, or at least feel a part of something earlier.”

Realizing Milli Vanilli had more influence on him growing up than anyone he spoke to in person, Lynn decided to harness his and other musicians’ popularity to help others in need. Recently, he partnered with the alternative rock band, Portugal. The Man, to raise awareness of, and break the stigmas surrounding, mental health.

“Our whole thing is fighting stigma. It’s also ending discrimination. For me, stigma feels like the last frontier—or next frontier—with civil rights around people with lived experience,” said Lynn.

The Portland-based Lynn will join Portugal. The Man on their upcoming U.S. tour, where he will build momentum for his “Keep Oregon Well: Mental Health Matters” initiative, which serves to educate people on mental wellness and help build a trauma-informed community.

“Mental health is personal for our whole band,” Portugal. The Man’s lead singer, John Gourley, said in a statement. “We all have days where we feel happy and well, and days where we don’t. Contrary to popular belief, this is a completely normal part of the human experience. As touring musicians, self-care can quickly become make it or break it on the road.”

Self-care is something Lynn knows all too well. He has spoken about his own mental health on podcasts with comedians like Jay Mohr, in interviews with magazines across the country and throughout his time as a dedicated behavioral health advocate. But when it comes to his music, it was time to speak rather than sing.

“This thing where musicians are expected to sing about their feelings, but never talk about their feelings, is a real thing,” Lynn said. “I think John and Portugal. The Man, and certainly me and others, are pushing up against that.”

Together, they aim to show people that having a mental health disorder isn’t a character flaw: It’s a diagnosable health condition akin to physical injury. Making treatment for something like an opioid use disorder as commonplace as treatment for diabetes remains the mission of Lynn’s initiative, and this powerful musical partnership serves as a key cog in the fight to normalize mental health challenges.

“We’re reaching people where they’re at,” Lynn said. “We’re meeting people, thousands of people, where they already are, and we’re standing up and making this normal.”

Want to help break the stigma surrounding mental health? Visit our Mental Health First Aid page to see how you can #BeTheDifference in the lives of others. Looking to engage with others to better behavioral health? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @NationalCouncil for the latest.

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