Tegan & Sara on mental health: ‘Being a young person can be overwhelming – it’s normal to struggle’

'There truly is no weakness is admitting you need a hand through the darkness'

Tegan Quin of Tegan And Sara has called for more to be done to normalise issues surrounding mental health for young people.

The Canadian duo appear in the new zine ‘Do What You Want’ – a zine all about mental health by chef, writer and model Ruby Tandoh and her partner, the musician Leah Pritchard. To help spread the word and as part of our ‘Let’s Talk‘ campaign, Tegan Quin spoke out to NME about the pitfalls of being a young person in 2017, and the brave steps to seek help if you’re suffering.

What do you think needs to be done to break the stigma around discussing mental health among young people?

“I think we just need to hit home a message that it’s normal to struggle, to feel down, to question who you are, where you fit and to need support. Being a young person can be very overwhelming. The window for kids to be kids is getting smaller and smaller. The pressure on young people is getting more extreme.

“I think we need to continue to invest in resources for young people to support them through their toughest years. We need to continue as public people to talk about how we struggle too to help remove some of the stigma. We need to build images of strength to represent the act of asking for help. It takes someone quite brave and strong to say, ‘I need help’. I think discussion should also start younger. It’s not just teenagers that feel overwhelmed or exhausted mentally. I think it’s starting younger so we need to start building mental health and self care into young kids lives. Talk about it at home. Checking in and self care are important things to learn about and I think it starts at home.”

What are the unique pressures that you think young people face when it comes to mental health in 2017?

“The internet. The internet. The internet. I think having smart phones with online access 24/7 is messing everyone up, not just young people. There is so much available to us now that I think young people especially are just unable to develop their own sense of self and identity. The constant comparisons to other people on your Instagram feed, or how many fiends you have compared to other people on Facebook or other social media. It’s very competitive, it’s constant, and I think it eats away at young people. They are addicted to their phones and computers and to connecting.”

“There isn’t that relief from social pressures that we had when we were young. We could go home and turn off the noise. The noise just gets louder now for young people. I think they need to let themselves turn off. They need to get away from their screens, away from their constant contact and updates on their social media feeds. Connect with family, the outdoors, do something active, relax, read, just have a minute away from it all. Without any of that relief I think it’s driving kids mad.”

Tegan And Sara

Tegan And Sara

What advice would you give to a young person struggling to come to terms with their issues and seek help?

“There is no shame in feeling down. It’s also hard sometimes to know if you’re down or depressed. It’s okay to admit that you’re not sure. That you don’t feel like yourself. I think finding someone to talk to is super important and more people ask for help than people think. Being young can be super overwhelming. There is a lot happening internally and externally. I’d encourage people to remember these things and seek help. We all go through tough times, there truly is no weakness is admitting you need a hand through the darkness.”

FOR HELP AND ADVICE ON MENTAL HEALTH:

Quin was speaking to NME after teaming up with All Time Low for the song ‘Ground Control’ from new album ‘Young Renegades‘, when they also spoke out about activism and LGBTQ rights in the age of Donald Trump.