One of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2018, Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes is using his platform to tackle mental health.

Mendes is making waves with the recently-released lead song “In My Blood,” a raw and honest recounting of living with anxiety.

The 19-year-old artist has also been speaking candidly of his own struggles with anxiety, advocating for a stigma-free public conversation on mental health, especially among men.

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Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor/Getty Images

It’s all about honesty

Speaking to NME, Mendes recounted that honesty was the main driving force behind his newest album. As such, his mental health struggles had to be an intrinsic part of his musical story.

“It’s all about honesty […] It’s something that I’ve always been paying attention to with other artists. It’s why I love Ed [Sheeran] and why I love [John] Mayer so much, he told the magazine, adding that he plans on becoming even more open and honest in the future.

Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in. Sometimes I feel like giving up, no medicine is strong enough. Someone help me, I’m crawling in my skin.

— Shawn Mendes, ‘In My Blood’

The former Vine star also delighted in the growing openness on mental health around the world, especially among men.

Often referred to as the silent crisis in men’s health, mental health issues have grown to near-epidemic proportions. According to Psychology Today, 75% of suicide victims in the U.S. are men, while substance abuse affects 1 in 3 Americans males, with the toxic masculinity culture of “boys don’t cry” exacerbating effects.

After all, men should feel safe to open up about struggling with emotional wellness, and mental health issues are NOT a sign of weakness or lack of so-called masculinity.

You have to start somewhere

Tipping his hat to the many celebrities creating important and often live-saving conversations on mental health, especially male stars such as The Rock and Ryan Reynolds, Mendes told NME: “I think it’s just the start of it. You have to start somewhere, and start the conversation about ‘This is how I feel, take it or leave it.’ That’s life.”

The thing with anxiety, and why it’s such a hard thing for people who don’t have it to understand, is that it is very random and hits you at moments you don’t expect it.

The Toronto native has been candid about seeking professional help to deal with his own anxiety as well.

“I’d break down in tears once a week. I used to think everybody was out to get me,” he told New York Magazine.

Therapy helped him realize the need to let those around him in and be honest about his struggles. “I made a conscious effort to be more connected to the people in my life. I found I was closing myself off from everybody, thinking that would help me battle it,” Mendez told The Sun.