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Student Blog: Best Showtunes About Mental Health


Here are five songs from musicals about mental wellbeing.

Student Blog: Best Showtunes About Mental Health If you're anything like me, Broadway is a great source of comfort and solace during times of struggle and strife. There's often a song for almost every situation, and nothing is quite as cathartic as the fantasy of belting your favorite ballad as if your bed is the Gershwin stage.

These are just a few of the songs that seem to best describe the experience of having a mental illness, because even the messy, difficult parts of being a human are worthy of the stage.

Before we begin, here's a quick content warning for references to suicide, depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and panic attacks.

1. "The Break" from Next to Normal

Of course, this list would be complete without a song from this show. There are plenty of songs from which to choose, but I ultimately went with this because it illustrates the experience of feeling manic, anxious and out of control. The rock element of the entire show lends itself to simulating some of the same feelings as the mental illnesses portrayed, and this song is a perfect example of that experience.

2. "Good For You" from Dear Evan Hansen

Yes, I see why "Waving Through a Window" might sound like the obvious choice from this show, but Evan's part in this song demonstrates his social anxiety in action in a way that I think is more accessible and relatable. His panic, guilt, and voices in his head are swirling around and overwhelming him, and this is especially clear when he sings "I gotta find a way to stop it! Stop it! Just let me out!" When you're in a moment of intense anxiety, it can feel like you're trapped, and this moment is a great way to illustrate those emotions.

3. "Dust and Ashes" from Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Having an existential crisis? Pierre can relate. This is the song for those of us who feel lost in life, unsure of the future, and itching for something new to hold on to, to hope for. Pierre struggles with his demons throughout the show, and this song delves deeper into his inner thoughts and characterization. It's relatable, insightful, and masterfully written, just like the rest of the show.

4. "Another Day" from Rent

This song is a great representation of pushing people away in order to avoid being vulnerable. Roger is somewhat of a recluse, generally not leaving the apartment or being social; this could be from a combination of his mental health and lack of income. He illustrates signs of depression and anxiety, and he has clearly struggled to move on from the death of his girlfriend, not to mention his HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Before meeting Mimi, he was mostly focused on his music, using his pursuit of "writing one great song" as both a coping mechanism and his only real goal. We can see in Roger the universal experience of feeling both helpless and prideful.

5. "Kindergarten Boyfriend" from Heathers

I nearly chose "Lifeboat" for this last spot, but this song is so achingly sad. Martha really represents the sweet, unconventionally attractive girl character who pines hopelessly after a boy who either doesn't notice or mistreats her. Martha copes with her heartache by daydreaming about being with her crush, rekindling their childhood romance. After a cruel prank by Veronica and the Heathers, she feels desolate enough to see taking her own life as a way to give herself "a dream that doesn't have to end." Luckily, her attempt is unsuccessful, but Martha's experience is unfortunately not uncommon. Plenty of people, especially those who do not fit the beauty standard, grapple with insecurities and body dysmorphia that can be debilitating. For those more sensitive souls who felt constantly rejected by their romantic interests, as well as society as a whole, this song can be especially poignant.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Alexandra Lang