Will Young on the value of listening and being heard
Will Young, the singer, actor and mental health activist, opened up at NABS WellFest during a heartfelt chat with the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health, Claire Sanderson.
And his key point was so simple, yet so effective, when it comes to supporting each other with our wellbeing.
His main piece of advice for the audience of adlanders was: “It’s so important to be heard by someone who won’t invalidate your feelings.”
Speaking frankly about his own mental health journey, Will explained how he learned to find people with whom he can entrust his feelings: “I’ve learned not to share with people who’ll invalidate – I call them ‘kidney punchers’. I have to stop myself from sharing things with them.
“We have to rewire ourselves to go to the right people, and they’re often not family. I had a difficult day recently and I called a friend who I knew would just listen. That’s wonderful support.”
Will went on to say how he had a small group of friends who he would share with, after learning to “reconfigure” his friendships to support his wellbeing: “I ended some friendships… I’d changed, and we weren’t compatible anymore.”
The star, who co-hosts the popular LGBTQ+ podcast Homo Sapiens, also shared his positive experience of group therapy, explaining: “I get so much from sharing [in therapy], there’s so much authenticity. If I had one way to heal this world, it would be to have an evening where we sit down and we’re honest with each other. The honesty in group therapy is amazing.”
Reflecting on the symptoms he experienced, he movingly described the experience of depersonalisation and derealisation, where he was unable to recognise himself in the mirror. He was ultimately diagnosed with PTDSD and suffered a breakdown before undergoing two courses of residential treatment.
Preferring to call his experience a mental health “engagement” rather than “battle”, Will was emphatic about the benefits of reaching out for help: “I was so broken. But since I’ve looked after my wellbeing, my profit, my wellbeing and my variation of work are all better.”