Years & Years frontman criticises government over cuts to NHS mental health services

Olly Alexander describes struggles with anxiety and panic disorder

Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander has spoken out against the government cuts affecting NHS mental health services in a revealing and personal interview with The Guardian.

In the interview, conducted by writer Owen Jones, Alexander discussed childhood troubles and his ongoing struggles with mental health problems such as anxiety and panic disorder.

“I always had really, really bad nightmares, like night terrors or whatever they’re called,” Alexander is quoted as saying. “I used to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to move… I’d hallucinate and have really scary visions and dreams, so I wouldn’t want to sleep.”

The singer added: “The first thing you start to think is you’re alone and you’re crazy. There is a support network out there… make use of it.”

Describing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions on the NHS as “really helpful”, Alexander continued: “I care about mental health a lot. It’s affected me and my family a lot, and it annoys me there’s not enough provided and stuff has been cut… When I started trying to get a counsellor on the NHS about 10 years ago, there was a six-week waiting list. And now, I’m told, it’s like three months – it can be – or longer… it feels like mental health is the first thing to get cut”.

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It’s not the first time Alexander has approached the subject of mental health, having spoken about the issue in interview with Attitude magazine during December. Having spoken out about his problems, Alexander says his band’s fans have reacted positively and started sharing their own stories with him.

“They write me letters a lot of the time and give them to me at shows, or they’ll tweet it at me or write on Instagram,” he said. “So many of them deal with mental issues, mental distress and it’s really so overwhelming… but it’s mostly positive.”

Watch Owen Jones’ full interview with Olly Alexander below.

Electronic-pop outfit Years & Years topped the UK charts with their debut album ‘Communion’ last July.

The group have been nominated for four awards at this year’s Brit Awards (British Group, British Breakthrough Act, British Single and British Artist Video).

Years & Years recently announced UK arena shows .

They will begin their live dates on March 28 at Inverness Ironworks before going on to play dates in Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Bournemouth, Plymouth and Swindon. The run of arena dates will come to an end on April 8 with a gig at London’s Wembley Arena.

Years & Years will play the following live dates:

Inverness Ironworks (March 28)
Glasgow Academy (March 29)
Birmingham Barclaycard Arena (April 1)
Manchester Apollo (April 2)
Bournemouth BIC (April 4)
Plymouth Pavillions (April 5)
Swindon Oasis (April 6)
London Wembley Arena (April 8)