Jewel shares how her struggle with panic attacks and agoraphobia inspired her mental health advocacy

Jewel speaks about her work as a mental health advocate. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Jewel speaks about her work as a mental health advocate. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

Songs like “Foolish Games” and “You Were Meant for Me” have earned her multiple Grammy nominations and an enduring pop legacy, but Jewel is quick to introduce herself as not simply a singer and songwriter; she’s a mental health advocate, too.

Having launched the Inspiring Children Foundation in the early 2000s to give at-risk youth struggling with financial hardship and mental health issues resources to therapeutic practices, mentoring, schooling, sports and more, Jewel is also now settling into her new role as an ambassador (aka “Champion”) for the mental health and brain health nonprofit One Mind.

“Our goal is to use science, use data, use society [to] create connection all around mental health so that anybody struggling with mental health issues — which is one in four people — [is] able to have thriving, happy lives,” says Jewel, who also sits on the organization’s board. “We all have to understand mental hygiene, because we have a brain! It’s nothing strange. We’re taught dental hygiene, and I think it’s bizarre we’re not taught mental hygiene.”

She adds, “Nobody’s ashamed when they have a cavity — why are we ashamed when we’re struggling with negativity or anxiety or bouts of depression? And why aren’t we taught mental hygiene? It’s so ridiculous to me that that’s an issue, and that we lost [our coping skills]. What do we do with pain? How do we handle having thoughts? … My advocacy work with One Mind is really about that.”

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