Jhené Aiko is continuing to use her platform for enact change and is being honored by the City of Los Angeles for doing so.
The City of Los Angeles recently proclaimed May as “Mental Health Is Health Month” and tapped Aiko to serve as the cause’s official ambassador. The Grammy-winning singer accepted the honor during a Friday ceremony at city hall, where she opened up about her own mental health experiences and the importance of destigmitazing such issues.
“When I started to write and do music, it was my personal therapy to help me get through things,” she said during the ceremony. “I didn’t know about therapy, I didn’t know a lot about mental illness or depression or anxiety. And I just found that turning my pain and suffering into some form of art, transforming it into art, really helped me get through it. It helped me to realize that the reason why I do what I do is to help others get through what they’re going through.”
Aiko posted photos of the ceremony on her Instagram page, along with a few words about the honor.
“Life can get tough, but no one should have to go through any of it alone,” she wrote. “Let’s open our hearts and ears to one another, share our stories and support each other in this human experience we call life… and together we can make it a bit easier ? I will continue to share my mental health journey and well being practices through my poetry and music in hopes to help others on their mental health journey.”
The Mental Health Is Health Month proclamation was a collaborative effort between Councilmember Nithya Raman’s office and Didi Hirsch, a leader in suicide prevention and mental health care services. According to the organization, an average of two L.A. residents die by suicide every day; over the past year, about 10 percent of residents considered suicide while nearly 14 percent experienced severe psychological distress—an alarming trend that’s been reported across the country.
Didi Hirsch reports that over the past 12 months, the Suicide Prevention Center’s Crisis Line has received approximately 136,000 calls, texts, and chats, marking a 13 percent spike.
“Over the past few years we have seen mental health issues skyrocket—in large part due to the pandemic—affecting the lives of Angelenos regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status,” Raman stated. “I am so proud to partner with Didi Hirsch, which has a long-standing commitment to the local Los Angeles community, to proclaim May as Mental Health is Health Month, and ensure that anyone struggling with mental health is connected with the support and resources they need.”
As part of the MHIHM campaign, Didi Hirsch launched a number of social media initiatives, including the “How I Look/How I Feel Challenge.” Participants will be asked to share posts that illustrate the juxtaposition of how they appear in a photo and how they really feel inside. Didi Hirsch also offers Ask a Therapist, a weekly Instagram session in which two influencer therapists answer questions from the public.
You can learn more about Didi Hirsch at its website.
Aiko has been quite vocal about her past issues with sobriety and anxiety. In March 2021, the 34-year-old singer shared an Instagram post that detailed her life-long mental health struggles.
“I’ve spent most of my life being extremely sensitive, drained and nervous when around a lot of people and/or multiple energies at once,” she wrote, just days after presenting at the Grammy Awards. “I’ve spent most of my life with crippling insecurity…feeling awkward and shy in front of cameras and audiences. I’ve spent most of my life not understanding that my anxiety was causing a downward spiral, self medicating and self sabotage. … I will never be perfect, nor do I ever want to be seen as such, but when u see me, know u are looking at a fighter. And I know u are fighting too. So when u see me I hope you also see you.”
Mental health is important — and it’s something we ALL must take care of.