A good thing: the charity MQ, which takes a research-led approach to treating mental health issues. It’s currently running ‘We Swear’, a campaign that sees celebs snapped in the middle of doing a swear, with the caption: “It’s time to give a [blank] about mental illness in young people.” In addition, the charity has teamed up with Peace, whose frontman Harry Kossier has recorded an essential new track called ‘From Under Liquid Glass’, a commendably honest account of depression. Harry told NME why it’s high-time to talk about mental health.
How did MQ become involved with ‘From Under Liquid Glass’?
“I was a bit shy about [the song] ‘cause it was a very personal account of what was going on at the time. But I was encouraged to put belief in the song and then it was put forward for this partnership with MQ. There was a statistic that took me back a bit: 75% of mental illnesses start before the age of 24. And less than 30% of the research spending goes on understanding mental illness in children. I was really grabbed by that – it just opened my eyes that our society is built wrong around mental illness. It’s wrong and there needs to be change.”
How does this issue resonate with you personally?
“In the last year or so I found that I was really struggling, being visited by demons that I hadn’t been visited by for a long time. The six months running up to the writing of this song were really hard, so I wrote it as a personal account. When I saw this campaign, it really took me. As a songwriter, I’m really blessed that I can write songs about the way I feel and put things out to the universe – even if no one hears them. It was the first time that I’d written a song really that really scared me.”
— MQ (@MQmentalhealth) November 17, 2017
Men often find it hard to open up about mental health. Did you find it embarrassing to reveal the track to the rest of the band?
“Yeah, definitely. Peace has always been a big eruption of positivity – our thing has always been to push positivity. Peace has always been about love and these explosions of happiness. Then writing a song that didn’t fit with that was really strange, even though it was really honest for me. I didn’t want people to be disappointed. It’s really hard – especially for men, because there’s an expectation to be strong. Even for me, a publicly known weakling.”
What was the reaction from the rest of the band?
“I think everyone just loved the song and felt the honesty of it, you know? I felt that they understood. Everyone, at some point in their lives, will come into contact with mental health issues, whether it be yourself or someone you know. I was really surprised; I kind of thought everyone would just be like, ‘Woah what’s going on?’ But they got it immediately and thought it was really honest.”
— MQ (@MQmentalhealth) October 17, 2017
There’s an amazing lyric in the chorus: “I’m left alone with my big fucking mental head”. Was that plain-speaking language an conscious attempt to demystify issues around depression and mental health?
“Yeah, definitely, I wanted it to be as straightforward as possible. It actually felt really good saying it. I wrote down how I felt: “I’m left alone in my big fucking mental head.” I didn’t want to change it at all. It felt like that’s exactly what it needed to say, but also that’s the biggest fear – people knowing. But I thought: ‘You’ve got to be strong about these things, and honest.’”
It feels like people have been more open about mental health in recent years. Is that a cause for optimism?
“I think so, yeah. Being able to talk about it – being able to say to your best mate that your mental health isn’t all right – is something that, say, five years ago you’d never have been able to do. It definitely feels like that’s on the change, but also mental health issues in young people haven rapidly rising over the last five or 10 years. So it’s even more important that it becomes completely OK to talk openly about it.”
For help and advice on mental health issues, check out the below organisations: