Empowerment, self-love and solidarity became the de-facto themes of last night’s MTV Video Music Awards thanks to rapper Logic along with Alessia Cara and Khalid. After performing the song “1-800-273-8255” named for the number of the national suicide prevention hotline, the Maryland-born rapper gave an impassioned speech to all those who have ever felt marginalized because of mental health issues or have contemplated suicide. He also spoke directly to those who felt the sting of sexism, racism or any other kind of discrimination while in pursuit of their dreams. It was a refreshing and inspirational reminder of music’s power to mobilize and heal.
Substance Abuse and mental health are strongly linked, specifically depression, anxiety and suicidal ideations. It’s critical that those who are feeling alone and suffering in silence have a sense of support, whether it’s from their musical role model or the family and friends with whom they interact on a daily basis. Very often, the only thing separating a suicide from a cry for help are the ears that ultimately hear the latter. As loved ones of those who are carrying more of a mental health burden than they can shoulder alone, it’s up to us to rally behind them and let them know we’re there.
Not for some time has an artist so clearly and so passionately engaged such a vulnerable group of people. It’s artists like logic that are the manifestation of the Recovery Unplugged mission and reinforce that music not only has the power, but the responsibility to heal mental health. However we may feel about the artists, or cultural climate from year to year, the VMA’s give artists a platform to convey whatever message they want. Last night was a clear demonstration of the power of that platform and what it looks like when artists are at their best.