Benga took a brave leap two weeks ago as he used his Twitter account to explain his mental health issues. His fanbase – and the music world at large – responded warmly and supportively, allowing him to trigger a discussion rarely (if ever) had in our culture.
He’s now told more of his story, including his darkest moments, in a frank interview with UK newspaper The Guardian. It’s essential reading that really highlights the anxiety and anguish of people who experience any forms of depression, anxiety and mental health problems.
“Part of me opening up and talking with people about mental health is a way of moving forward,” explains Benga who, during one of his episodes, handed out his jewelry to strangers. “It’s good to see people on my Twitter feed talking about it. This industry is all about perception: a lot of people wouldn’t want anybody to think they’re weak, or that they can’t do what they do, or that they’re not cool. Nobody wants to come clean, let alone an artist.”
With one in six British adults experiencing mental health issues at one point in their lives, Benga has instigated a critical discussion and broader awareness… Especially in a culture where recreational drugs are common place. Citing drugs as a key accelerator in his illness, Benga tells The Guardian that “We have a culture where it’s not about having fun, it’s about outdoing your mates and going on unnecessary benders. If I’d heard of more cases it would’ve made me think more about what I was consuming.”
Fortunately, being sectioned in March 2014 was a turning point for the dubstep pioneer. It’s been a long road, but one he’s clearly relishing the journey of: take one glance at his Twitter account and it’s clear he’s more enthused and engaged than ever about his life, his music and, most importantly, himself. Actively offering help and support for those who are experiencing similar issues, he’s published his email address in the hope no one suffers in silence.
“I would plead with anybody who sees anything wrong with their mates, their family members, to act on it straight away,” he states. “That way you can limit the damage that’s done. Too many people are blase. I see it in other people now more than ever. I see the mood swings and the paranoia and I think to myself: ‘You’re on a bad road.’ I can see it in some A-list celebrities, and I think: ‘Who’s around them, who’s going to help them take that step to sort it out?’”
Huge respect to Benga. Read the full interview here.