Will Young talks to Time to Talk West Berkshire about the importance of talking about one's feelings
SINGER Will Young spoke openly about his battle with anxiety and depression as he attended Time to Talk West Berkshire’s orienteering fundraising event on Sunday, August 1.
Will, who shot to fame when he won the TV talent show Pop Idol in 2002, admitted that he had "spent a long time trying to pretend he was fine" before "hitting a brick wall".
He also praised the charity, which provides free counselling services and support for young people aged between 11 and 25, for the work it does.
More than 140 people attended the event and 60 tombola prizes, all of which were donated by local individuals and businesses, were handed out on the day.
The teams who took part had to navigate their way around the West Berkshire countryside solving cryptic clues before moving on to the next location.
Victory tasted sweet for the winning team, who were awarded a bottle of bubbly for their efforts.
In total, more than £2,000 has been raised for Time to Talk, which will enable the charity to provide an extra 50 counselling sessions for young people struggling with their mental health.
The event was held at The Plough at Eastbury – a pub where Will revealed he had spent “many New Year’s Eve celebrations”.
The musician, who is best known for his number one singles Evergreen/Anything is Possible, Leave Right Now and Light My Fire, grew up nearby and his parents still live in the area.
Addressing the crowd, he said: “When I got to my thirties, I spent a lot of time pretending that I was very happy and it was quite exhausting.
“I spend all of my time being a performer, so it was kind of easy for me.
“But one day I suddenly hit a brick wall, so I decided it was time to start being open to my friends and my family that I wasn't always happy the whole time.
“In fact, I was quite an anxious person and would quite often get depression as well.
“And it was a really interesting thing because you can't be happy the whole time.
“One of the most important things when you open up about your feelings, it doesn't matter what age you are, is to be validated and to be heard.
“It takes away so much of the shame that we have about feeling anything other than easy emotions.
“Then my friends started going ‘Oh yeah you know actually sometimes I don't feel happy the whole time’.
“Sometimes I find it stressful being a parent. Sometimes I find it stressful being at work, stressful being a son, a daughter.
“Once we started speaking openly and honestly my friendship group became so much closer.
“And so now when we ask that question ‘how are you?’, it goes much deeper than just ‘oh I'm a bit tired’.
“If there's one thing I’d love you guys to take away, all of you, is the importance of hearing each other.
“You don't have to fix each other, just listen.
“Young people’s organisations such as Time to Talk weren't around in my day and it makes me so happy and so optimistic and hopeful that there are organisations like yours and people such as yourself who are here to help raise funds and have fun in the process.
“Because the earlier you get to teach people that you're allowed to feel anything whatever it is it's valid they will it will benefit them for years and years and decades to come and they will grow up healthier, more authentic people.
“So, what you guys are doing today isn't just helping raise some money, it’s actually investing in young people's life for the future.
“It’s important to talk about mental health. Having therapy has made me so much happier in my life.”
Time to Talk chairwoman Georgina Punter said: “It was a fantastic day and everyone was in such good spirits.
“I want to say a massive thank you to our wonderful volunteers, everyone who turned up and took part on the day and of course, our celebrity guest Will Young for giving up their time.
“We’re so grateful and it wouldn’t have been possible without your support.
“Hearing someone like Will open up about their mental health is so powerful and I hope that hearing his words will encourage more young people who are struggling with theirs to talk to someone.”