The Vaccines’ Justin Young on raising awareness for male mental health

He joins Years & Years and Frank Turner in helping to battle depression though music

The Vaccines have spoken out about raising awareness for depression among men and using music to fight it, as they join a new campaign for male mental health with Years & Years, Frank Turner and more. Read our full Q&A with frontman Justin Young below.

This week, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) launches ‘Torch Songs’ – inviting huge artists to cover their favourite songs that highlight the power of music to raise the spirit and help us through darker times. In 2015, 4,618 men took their own lives – an average of 12 men every day and one every two hours. Now, more is being done to use music to combat depression.

“Music is a constant, a saviour in the world which is unique to everyone,” said project champion and BBC Radio One DJ Huw Stephens. “We all know how much music means to us, and can help us sometimes. The artists involved, sharing their unique cover versions of their personal Torch Songs, are magnificent. The songs strike the right note; give you hope; remind you of the possibilities; remind you you’re not alone. We launch Torch Songs with some spectacular talents sharing their intimate Torch Songs with us – it’s a great way to get people talking about talking.”

[sidebar id=”premium_inline_1″]

So far, The Vaccines have covered ‘Hope’ by The Descendents, Frank Turner has delivered his rendition of ‘This Year’ by The Mountain Goats and Years & Years have taken on by Joni Mitchell, among others. For more information on Torch Songs, visit here.

[sidebar id=”premium_inline_2″]

How did you guys come to be involved in the Torch Songs project?

Justin Young: “It’s not really often that something grabs your attention and feels like such a no-brainer. Mental health within young men is something that is close to our hearts and we were in the studio any way and it’s fun to play your favourite songs. It was such an easy decision, we said yes immediately.”

So what is it about this cause that particularly grabbed your attention and what makes it close to your heart?

“It’s something that we all suffer from it at times and it seems like something that is being addressed even more in the last couple of years – but we’re still far really from moving forwards and being able to talk about these things to the extent that we should be able to.”


Do you think more needs to be done to challenge images of masculinity when discussing mental health?

[sidebar id=”premium_inline_3″]

“I think so – and you know, masculinity is shifting. The way men communicate with each other continues to be archaic in many ways, and I think that a lot of us are closed books.  It’s really important that people know that they can find help and talk to their friends, family or professionals about their feelings. There is a long way to go. I know from first-hand experience, from my relationship with my friends and my family and stuff. There’s a long way to go.”

The way I see it is that the brain is another part of the body really and should be tended to.

“Absolutely, absolutely -it suffers in the same way that every part of our bodies do.”

[sidebar id=”premium_inline_4″]

Therapy is something that every adult should do

“I completely agree. I think its such an amazing thing – even if it’s just to help you process your thoughts and quieten down your brain. Just hearing yourself say something out loud is an incredibly cathartic thing. I’m definitely an advocate.”

Would you agree that therapy and help with mental health needs to be more accessible?

“Absolutely, I think that’s a problem, I’ve had friends who have looked to sort out therapy and maybe can’t afford you know like Harley Street therapists and it does seem like six months waiting lists on the NHS to see someone. That’s a great shame, because as you’ll know mental health is a very immediate problem – it’s not something you consider waiting to address.”

A big part of this campaign is how music can help lift people out of depression. What do you think it is about the power of music, and processing your thoughts through music that can help improve mental health – or at least help you understand it?

[sidebar id=”premium_inline_5″]

“Music is so powerful; the power of music, the volume of it and the sound and the feeling of it and everyone has a different relationship with it. For me, I’ve always found my shining light as being the lyrical content and just knowing I’m not alone and that other people experience the same things that I do. Ever since I was 11 or 12, my relationship with music has been based on the strength I find through lyrics. As someone, not just as a music fan, but as a musician being able to process what I’m thinking then say it out loud and sing it out loud is unbelievable and I don’t know what I’d do without it.”

So what is it about this track by The Descendants that made you choose it for the campaign?

“It’s one of my favourite songs of all time. It was one of the very first songs that I heard at age 11 or 12, where it just spoke to me. It was probably around about the time that I was first like getting crushes and questioning myself. It’s like a funny time isn’t it? You’re hitting puberty, and this record was like a light for me. It is such a simple song, but it still feels the same way now as it did then.”

[sidebar id=”premium_inline_before_last_p”]

For more information on depression, anxiety and seeking help, visit CALM.