James Arthur shares grief over Mike Thalassitis' death and says ‘mental illness isn’t weak’
26 May 2019, 13:21
The X Factor singer wants more men to speak out about mental health following the tragic death of the Love Island star
James Arthur is urging men to be more vocal about mental health in the wake of Mike Thalassitis' "tragic" death.
The X Factor winner, who bravely acknowledged his own struggles with anxiety at Radio 1's Big Weekend, is encouraging people suffering from illnesses such as depression to share their “problems” following the Love Island contestant’s suspected suicide.
Speaking to Mirror Online backstage, he said: “It’s tragic and people need to speak up more if they’re having problems.
“There seems to be an attitude around men that if you speak about your mental health you’re admitting weakness and that’s not the case.”
The 31-year-old, who experienced such severe panic attacks he “thought he was dying”, admitted that although he still feels pressure in certain situations, he’s less concerned about what people think.
“It does feel different this time because I’ve stopped worrying as much and am just enjoying making the music I want to make,” explained the singer.
The Impossible hitmaker previously spoke about his mental health struggles for Heat magazine’s campaign ‘Where’s Your Head At?’.
He said: "From a young age I've suffered with anxiety - it can be really severe. When I first started having panic attacks, I thought I was dying. I was convinced that I was just dying and that led to me making some bad decisions and bad choices in my life and career."
James continued: "On top of the depression and the anxiety, I lost my purpose. Being in the public eye can definitely heighten anxiety because you put pressure on yourself to be what you think people want you to be at times.
“A lot of people want to get at you and knock you down if you’re in the public eye. When I was really, really low, I had to do some soul searching and figure out what was going with my mental health.
"I internalised a lot of my problems for a long time and I suffered in silence and was going nowhere in my life, until I plucked up the courage to just unload all of this stuff that I was feeling. I was really surprised to find how common it was and how many people had the same feelings as me."
James revealed that he has since learnt how important it is to "be aware of yourself, how you react to things and how you approach things" and now insists he needs to be around "positive energy."
He added: “Encouraging people to talk and being a listener [is important]. If there’s people that you haven’t heard from in a while or they’ve gone a bit quiet - like a friend or a family member that you haven’t heard - drop them a text and ask them how they’re doing.
"I think we can just be a bit more caring and communicative. You just don’t know who’s going through some kind of mental health issue."
Mike Thalassitis was found dead aged 26 in the woods near his North London home.
If you identify with the topics raised in this article, we encourage you to reach out to the Samaritans. You can call them for free on 116 123, or visit their website, www.samaritans.org.