For those attending the Capital Summertime Ball last weekend, a huge stadium event featuring the biggest and best music acts in the world, it came as a surprise when Zayn Malik pulled out at the very last minute. With tens of thousands of fans eager to see the One Direction star’s first solo performance, fans knew it would take something huge for Zayn to let his fans down. And then he spoke. In a statement released via Twitter, Zayn exposed himself to the world to tell of crippling, career threatening anxiety.
One of the first people to respond and offer their support to the 23 year old superstar? Alfie Deyes. The boyfriend of fellow anxiety sufferer Zoe Sugg, Alfie simply tweeted: “Sending so much love to you man. We all understand”.
Alfie, more than anyone, has had experience via Zoe of what anxiety can do to ones life and how it can effect a career. Now, as the initial drama around the cancellation calms, we’re left with discussions about anxiety going on across the globe. And we can’t think of anything better than an open, honest series of talks happening around mental health.
Of course, another person who has opened the world up to living with anxiety and mental health problems is Zoe Sugg. Despite 10 million subscribers, two books (and a third on the way) and three beauty ranges, Zoe has openly spoken about how her crippling anxiety effects her life.
When Zoe published her iconic video, Sometimes It All Gets A Bit Too Much, in April 2015, she broke the fan-built facade that her life with perfect and showed viewers a whole different side to her. Through tears, Zoe spoke of not having the seemingly perfect life and finding things highly overwhelming: “YouTubers seem like they have the most perfect life. Everything that you don’t see could be shit… I’m very lucky that I don’t have a shit life… But there are demons”.
What happened next was a flood of messages of love and support, as well as thousands of fans sharing their personal stories and showing others that they’re not alone.
Zoe’s initial video caused a ripple across the YouTube and celebrity community and in just 26 months since it was published, Tanya Burr has spoken about her issues, Melanie Murphy has made a ton of inspiring videos about mental health and eating issues and the British Government installed its very first mental health champion for schools.
Where social media is blasted for being the reason so many of us feel insecure, it’s also our outlook and place to look for help. Without the Internet and the likes of Zoella and Zayn openly using words like ‘anxiety’, we’re able to live in a world where there’s something or something to refer to for those who can’t relate or don’t understand what we’re trying to say.
If more people like Zoe Sugg, Tanya Burr, Grav3yardGirl and Zayn Malik spoke about anxiety and stomped all over those who just believe it’s for attention or doesn’t really exist then we’ll no doubt live in a happier world. For now, we’re pleased to see Zoe and Zayn pioneering change and awareness.
As YouTube continues to make mainstream press headlines, we hope we’ll see less about whether Zoe flashed her pants and more about the thousands of young people across the globe who are finding a sanctuary in a platform which brings them laughter, smiles and hope in even the darkest of times.
If you’d like to, please leave your stories below on how YouTube has helped you.