How music saved Madison Beer’s life

Written by Alam Alidina

Singer-songwriter Madison Beer tells Student Reporting Labs’ Jaylah Moore-Ross how music provided an outlet for her mental health struggles. Their conversation was featured in an episode of our teen mental health podcast, On Our Minds with Matt and Faiza.

Beer, who was discovered by Justin Bieber and signed to a label at 13 years old, found that the stigmas surrounding mental health made taking action to protect herself difficult.

“As women specifically, we get kind of told from a young age that if you set boundaries, you’re obnoxious or that you’re like a diva or whatever it might be,” she said. “When in reality it just, it’s a form of self-care.”

These dismissals were compounded by a culture in which discussions about mental health are often reserved for the most private settings.

“We’ve been told to like, kind of hide our like demons and in our dark things like keep them in the closet,” Beer said. “I personally think that that’s completely wrong.”

Beer instead found solace in her work, first discussing her struggles with a group of close confidantes before ultimately putting them to music. She credits this approach with helping her beat back her disease.

“There were days where I was like, I can’t even move,” Beer said. “Having those people in my life really did save me from some really dark days and some really dark times.”

But Beer sees herself as part of a larger movement. She hopes to expose her enormous audience—30M followers on Instagram alone—to a public, community-centered approach to mental health, one that will redefine concepts like vulnerability.

“I encourage people to create a support system around them, create healthy coping mechanisms, figure out what works for you, “ Beer said. “I always say that like people who are able to be vulnerable with one another and open up, I think are the strongest people in the world.”

This strength is evident in Beer’s music, which is often credited for its raw lyrics. Her hit single “Effortlessly” expresses her initial disappointment – then growing acceptance – of the medications she took to combat her mental health disorders. 

“I had a lot of resentment towards the pharmaceutical industry or like just being medicated in general because I was like ‘How are you going to reduce all the things I’ve been through and like my traumas literally into a little pill?’” Beer said. “And I have now come to a place where I’m like, that’s not its purpose, it’s to just kind of help you.”

In fact, were Beer given the chance to speak to her younger self, that acceptance is something she’d emphasize.

“I wouldn’t really say much,” Beer said. “I think I would give her a really big hug, and I would let her know that she’s going to make it out just fine and there’s going to be some tough years ahead. But like, you know, she’s a strong, strong kid.”