Ever since opening up about his experiences with generalized anxiety disorder, TODAY’s Carson Daly has been determined to dismantle the stigmas around mental illness.
Now, in celebration of World Mental Health Day this October, he’s continuing that fight through a video series called Mind Matters, which spotlights people who face mental health challenges and discusses the various ways that they cope with them.
“I’ve been trying to bring up a conversation about anxiety and depression and mental health as much as humanly possible,” Carson said in the series’ first installment. “And try and normalize it, talk about it. Because, you know, for a long time I sorta suffered in silence.”
Carson spoke to Logic — the rapper behind the popular “1-800-273-8255” suicide prevention song — and bonded over their mutual struggles with anxiety-induced panic attacks. Logic said that didn’t know he had anxiety until around five years ago, when he went through a “crazy panic attack” that warped his perception of reality.
“My buddy…was like, ‘You got anxiety.’ And I was like, ‘No, I don’t,'” remembered Logic. “Because I didn’t wanna be, you know, labeled as this person with anxiety.”
Carson battled a similar sense of denial, which points to how pervasive negative stereotypes about mental illness are often internalized.
Carson recounted how his father would say, “Anxiety’s not a real diagnosis of anything. It just means you’re lazy.”
Even his general practitioner contributed to the stereotypes: After prescribing him Klonopin, she leaned in and said, “But I wouldn’t tell anybody. They’ll think you’re crazy.”
But Carson and Logic reflected on how they’ve learned that the opposite is true — that talking to others about mental health issues is a valuable method of coping. This can take the form of seeing a therapist, as both men do, or even just confiding in friends and family.
“All those triggers, you could talk to somebody about it and you’ll feel better,” Carson explained. “Like that’s already one way to bring anxiety levels down.”
While Logic acknowledged that those conversations can be “difficult and scary to initiate,” he had one big piece of advice: “Get it out. Don’t keep it inside.”
Of course, people’s reluctance to discuss mental illness both derives from and reinforces the stigmas surrounding it. To combat this vicious cycle, Logic has been involved in a mental health startup called Project Healthy Minds.
CEO Phillip Schermer said that its goals are to “shatter the stigma of mental health” and “make it easier for people to find mental health services,” through tools like a mental health resource library. Such services are particularly necessary right now, he added: According to the CDC, the coronavirus epidemic considerably worsened young people’s mental health.
As for the role of people who don’t face mental illness? “If you’re talking to somebody and they’re talking (about their mental health), just believe ’em,” said Carson. “Because the struggle is real.”
Still, Logic emphasized that the struggle is one that people can eventually overcome, no matter how hopeless it seems.
“Anything that anybody can be going through alone, in the depths of their mind, and they feel like they can’t get out of it — dude, you totally can,” he said. “And you will laugh later. It is a real thing. You can 100% get out of it, but it’s by making positive steps.”