The Vaccines among artists raising awareness of male mental health

  • Words: Spindle

This week, numerous notable artists have released covers to highlight how music can raise our spirits and help to turn things around during tough times. The project, ‘Torch Songs,’ which “light the way out of the dark,” was launched by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to raise awareness of male mental health and combat depression. Last year, men accounted for 75% of suicides, with 4,618 men taking their own lives, which means 12 men a day, or one man every two hours. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 45. These statistics are shocking and horrifying, and more needs to be done to raise awareness and help men suffering from depression. CALM works to achieve just this and to prevent suicide by offering frontline services, promoting culture change, campaigning for better understanding of suicide and prevention, encouraging men to talk and seek help, and by breaking down the unrealistic expectations on men to always be infallible.

‘Torch Songs’ aims to show that “it’s not unusual to struggle sometimes,” and encourages both artists and fans to share their ‘torch song,’ a track that guides them out of darkness. The project has been championed by Radio One DJ Huw Stephens, and the songs that have been recorded so far are ‘Hope’ (The Descendents) by The Vaccines, ‘Both Sides Now’ (Joni Mitchell) by Years & Years, ‘This Year’ (The Mountain Goats) by Frank Turner, ‘Everything Reminds Me of Her’ (Elliott Smith) by Blaenavon, ‘Solsbury Hill’ (Peter Gabriel) by Tall Children, ‘My Funny Valentine’ (Chet Baker) by Tom The Lion, ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ (The National) by Lewis Fieldhouse, and ‘Month of May’ (Arcade Fire) by Neil Cowley Trio.

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Frank Turner chose ‘This Year’ by the Mountain Goats, which features the powerful lyrics, “I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me,” as he said, “I had a rough time of it in 2014 and 2015, for various reasons, both personal and professional. That song arrived in my life during that time and quickly became my battle anthem for surviving the slings and arrows.” He also commented on the project, “Music has always been a sanctuary for me, as it is for many people. ‘Torch Songs’ is a wonderful way of highlighting that and trying to make a difference in the campaign against living miserably.”

The Vaccines said of their choice, ‘Hope’ by The Descendents, “My relationship with songs like this one has helped me immeasurably through the years to get through tough times and I sometimes wonder what I’d do without them.” The band have also highlighted the importance of tackling the stigma around male mental health, “Obviously a lot of men find opening up and talking about their struggles and their feelings very difficult. I myself have been told to “shut the fuck up” by friends when trying to open up, and I think it’s a real problem we face.”

Listen to the songs from the Vaccines, Frank Turner and Years & Years below:

Listen to the rest of the songs here. Visit Torch Song’s website for more information.