Entertainment and Arts

Rocker Stephen Stanley Wary of Monetising Mental Health

By: Laura Bennett

Georgia-based artist Stephen Stanley has been making music since the age of nine.

He learned to play his mother’s guitar after suffering an accident that rendered him deaf in his left ear and uncovered an innate musicality and gift for melody.

By age 13, Stephen had added piano and drums to his repertoire and was writing songs and leading worship at his family’s church. Over the last decade, he’s crafted a distinct sound and sense of purpose to his songs, this year releasing his debut album Divided Frame of Mind.

Reflecting the “fight between the light and the dark”, the album mixes seasons of struggle for Stephen, with the faith-filled realisations that helped him – and continue to help him – move through them.

“I’ve talked about mental health in my songs a bit before the album,” Stephen said.

“But what I want to say in my music is that there’s a lot of problems in the world – especially what’s been going on the past few days – and the answer is Jesus.”

Instead of lingering in the challenge, Stephen wants to address it while also pointing to hope on the other side.

“There’s a lot of mental health songs out there right now, they’re more about people living in the darkness and saying, ‘this is how I feel’,” Stephen said.

“On this album I’m going to go to that dark place, I’m going to work my way through it.”

Message of Hope

Dedicated to honesty in his music, Stephen won’t shy away from the truth of his experiences, but he’s also mindful that increasing transparency about mental health issues has become a sellable trait for artists.

“I’m not really ashamed to talk about [mental health struggles] ever,” Stephen said.

“But sometimes there can be a commercialisation of this and I’m wary of talking about it if it makes me uncomfortable in that way: ‘I’m talking about this because we’re trying to sell something’.

“We can almost get addicted to the darkness, or to our depression.”

Stephen’s latest single Whatever it Takes touches on anxiety and depression “but it’s really about the gospel”.

“[That’s] ultimately what heals people,” Stephen said.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Publicity 

About the Author: Laura Bennett is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.

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