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World Music Day: How BTS heals the world with its songs on mental health

K-pop band BTS uses the power of music to send a powerful message on self-love, mental health and more. Here's what they stand for and why their message resonate with so many fans.
BTS speaks about mental health in their songs. Image courtesy: www.ibighit.com
Arushi Bidhuri Updated: 21 Jun 2024, 11:47 pm IST
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Music – what does it mean to you? It’s an emotion that speaks to you in a way that no one can ever do, and sometimes you do not even need lyrics to relate to it. Not just emotionally, music is believed to be a powerful tool that can have a positive effect on you, bringing solace and joy to those having a difficult time, and multiplying the joy for those in a celebratory mood. One group that has made it their aim to spread love, make people aware of mental health struggles, and encourage people to love themselves is BTS. This globally popular 7-member South Korean band has taken the world by storm – and one of the key reasons is because the lyrics of their song resonate with people beyond geographical boundaries.

While a lot of people know the Grammy-nominated group as trendsetters, an award-winning Korean band, great musicians and dancers, at their core lies music that is like a beam of hope and positivity for their fans. On World Music Day, learn more about BTS and how they are helping people with their songs on mental health.

Who is BTS?

BTS is an acronym for Bangtan Sonyeondan, which roughly translates to Bullteproof Boys. The legendary South Korean band includes the leader RM (Kim Namjoon), alongside Jin (Kim Seok-jin), SUGA (Min Yoon-gi), J-hope (Jung Ho-seok), Jimin (Park Jimin), V (Kim Tae-Hyung), and Jungkook (Jeon Jung-kook). The band has topped global charts, produced some incredible music, has multiple charitable endeavors, and has one of the largest growing fanbases in the world called ARMY.

BTS songs resonates with their fans, and they always bow down to their fans for showing their love and support at the end of a show.. Image courtesy: Instagram/BTSofficial

BTS is known for its melodic tracks and slick moves. But this band is more than just a singing group. You may begin listening to them out of curiosity or for their tunes. But what makes you stick to their music is the positivity it brings to your life. Sometimes, you end up finding life coaches that you never expect, and that is what this Korean septet is for many of its fans.

BTS on mental health

The story of BTS’ ascent from rags to riches is one for history. Living in a small one-bedroom apartment and training tirelessly for 16 hours a day in a small studio until the lack of air caused their mirrors to fog up is what made them what they are today. You might know them as a global phenomenon, but there are years of struggle behind their succcess. ARMY, who have been laughing and crying with the band, know how the success did not come so easily and it took blood, sweat, and tears for BTS to be one of the biggest band in the world.

It also took a lot of mental strength to work through every day and achieve their goals. The greatest example of their struggles, success, and humble character are their lyrics that resonate with their fans.

Also Read: Nostalgic music not just evokes memories, but also boosts mental health

BTS songs that talk about mental health

Music is entertainment. But it also influences physiological responses that enhance physical and mental well-being. Patients with mental disorders showed a visible improvement after interventions, using music as the primary tool, according to a study published in the Journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity.

An advocate for mental health, BTS has always been open about their personal experience and struggles. They talk about their depression and other problems to help destigmatize the taboo around mental health. While multiple songs in their discography talk about these issues, here’s a glimpse into some of them to help you understand:

1. The last, August D

SUGA has opened up about his struggles and his problems in several songs and interviews. For instance, SUGA released a solo mixtape under his alter ego August D in 2016. In it, he talks about his struggles with mental health problems such as depression, and social anxiety and how he got treatment to be better.

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PERSONALISE NOW

“The conflict with ideal, my head hurts
Around the age of 18, I developed social anxiety
Right, that was when my mind was gradually polluted
At times I’m scared of myself too
Thanks to the depression that takes over me
And all my self-hatred
Habitual saying uh
I don’t give a s**t I don’t give a f**k
All those words uh
Those words are said to hide my weak self”

2. Blue and Grey

A melancholic, soft pop ballad from their album Be, Blue and Grey is about feeling lonely and abandoned. It talks about depression and how a cheerful person can become unrecognizable. This song was part of describing the sadness they experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. They are confused by the feelings of sadness, and want to get out of it and smile again.

“This ground feels so heavier
I am singing by myself
I just wanna be happier
Am I being too greedy?”

Also Read: Causes of loneliness and how to cope with it for a healthier state of mind

3. I’m Fine

A counterpart to their song Save Me, which was about being afraid of being lonely, I’m fine is about being enough to bring yourself out of misery.

“Even if sadness erases me
Even if there are dark clouds
Even if I’m in an endless dream
Even if I’m endlessly crumpled
Even if my wings are torn
Even if some day I’m not me anymore
It’s alright, only I am my own salvation”

The lyrics continue: “Our future will be full of joy. So set aside your worries and enjoy now. You’ve worked hard, we so fine.”

4. Zero O’clock

In essence, the song imagines midnight as the moment when the day might begin anew and the “world holds its breath.” It offers a reassuring message of hope, which means that every day is new and presents an opportunity to begin again.

“You know those days
Those days where you’re sad for no reason
Those days where your body is heavy
And it looks like everyone else except you is busy and fierce…

Come home and lie in bed
Thinking if it was my fault.
Dizzy night, looking at the clock
Soon it will be midnight
Will something be different?
It won’t be something like that
But this day will be over
When the minute and second hands overlap
The world holds its breath for a little while
Zero o’clock

And you’re gonna be happy
And you’re gonna be happy”

5. Tomorrow

A song from their 2014 album Skool Luv Affair, this song conveys the struggles the youth faces and their fear of “tomorrow.” They think that nothing will ever change and that they are running in circles.

“I have a long way to go but why am I running in place?
I scream out of frustration but the empty air echoes
I hope tomorrow will be different from today
I’m just wishing”

It continues:

Because the dawn right before the sun rises is the darkest
Even in the far future, never forget the you of right now.”

This is just a glimpse into the wide discography of the group which consists of several amazing songs like Idol, So Far Away, Always, Reflection, Whalien 52, and many more that talk about mental health, and help others see that they are not alone and can rise from the ashes.

BTS’ message is about loving yourself

Self-love is the belief that you are worthy of love, respect, safety, and belonging. The idea of self-love is at the core of the band’s discography. Throughout their careers, with multiple songs and albums such as Love Yourself: Her, Love Yourself: Tear, and Love Yourself: Answer, BTS’ message is for everyone to find it in their hearts to love themselves.

“You’ve shown me I have reasons
I should love myself (Oh-oh-oh)
I’ll answer with my breath, my path
The me of yesterday
The me of today
The me of tomorrow
(I’m learning how to love myself)
With no exceptions, it’s all me”

-Answer: Love Myself, 2018

This message is not just for the listeners but also the members. And it has helped many around the globe.

The oldest member of the group, Jin who recently got back from serving in the military on June 12, 2024, released a song called Epiphany in 2018 from the ‘Love Yourself’ series, which is a beautiful ode to self-acceptance and realizing your worth.

“I’m the one I should love in this world, the shining me, the precious soul of mine.”

“I realize only now, so I love me. Though I’m not perfect, I’m so beautiful, I’m the one I should love.”

The song recounts his realisation that he should accept himself for who he truly is and that loving himself comes before loving someone else. He took his time to learn and have the epiphany of knowing the positives in him and accepting himself for who he is, even though he is not perfect.

BTS continues to spread mental health awareness. Image courtesy: www.ibighit.com

There are several songs by the septet that have resonated with their armies and brought many to love themselves and be kind to themselves.

Indian BTS fan Akanksha Singh, who is 25 years old, tells Health Shots,  “Things were in a whirlwind when I started listening to BTS. Lost at first, I found solace in their music. Their songs and social messages did not cure me, but they evoked a sense of belonging and comfort. Their music helped me deal with the vicissitudes of life without being too hard on myself. Sharing their deepest and innermost feelings in their music helped me connect with the lyrics. Not only that, their music also brought a lot of positivity and inspiration in my life to be better and love myself. With each passing day, I am learning to find myself, love myself, and see the world in a better light.”

BTS urges youth to find their voices

Back in 2017, BTS partnered with Unicef for its anti-violence campaign “Love Myself” to help the world become a safe place for children and teens, and lead happy lives.

Speaking at the United Nations’ 73rd General Assembly’s launch of Unicef’s (The United Nations Children’s Fund) Generation Unlimited in 2018, RM talked about his initial struggle and how he began to shut his own voice and listen to the “voices of others.” He eventually found a sanctuary in music that gave him a voice. He urged his fans to find their voices too. “Even after making the decision to join BTS, there were hurdles. Most people thought we were hopeless. Sometimes, I just wanted to quit. I think I was very lucky that I didn’t give it all up.”

BTS’ message is on self-love and speaking yourself. Image courtesy: Instagram/BTSofficial

He urged his fans to never give up and speak for themselves. “We have learned to love ourselves. So now I urge you to ‘speak yourself.’ Tell me your story. I want to hear your voice, and I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are, where you are from, your skin colour, gender identity: speak yourself,” he said. It became an anthem for self-expression and that has helped many armies around the globe.

Sneha Aggarwal, a 23-year-old fan, says: “I never expressed my beliefs or told anyone what I really wanted to do in life. I never raised my voice for myself, mainly because I think I never believed or loved myself. Initially, I had zero courage to be myself, but BTS became like a knight in shining armour for me. Listening to their music and their social message helped me be more confident and accepting of who I am, which in turn helped me speak for myself and stand up for what I wanted to do in life, which is to become an animator,”

Also Read: Come, fall in love with yourself by taking these 7 steps to unconditional self love

BTS members on the importance of talking about mental health

Hailing from a land with the highest number of suicides, BTS’ message not only highlights the importance of mental health struggles in South Korea, but also normalises talking about mental health. In a world where it is hard to survive and be yourself, all 7 members of the group are more than willing to share their struggles and choose to be vulnerable to not only help their fans but each other as well.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, SUGA spoke about the importance of not stigmatizing mental health and treat as any other problem like the “common cold.”

“I think for not just us, but other celebrities, if they talk about it openly — if they talk about depression, for example, like it’s the common cold, then it becomes more and more accepted if it’s a common disorder. More and more, I think artistes or celebrities who have a voice should talk about these problems and bring it up to the surface,” he said.

With their message and songs, BTS continues to rule the hearts of many of their fans. While Jin is back from his mandatory military service in Korea, 6 of the band members continue to complete their service. The band is expected to reunite in 2025.

Arushi Bidhuri

Arushi Bidhuri is a journalist with 7 years of experience in writing, editing, and conceptualizing story ideas across different genres, including health and wellness, lifestyle, politics, beauty, fashion, and more. Arushi has a strong connection in the industry that helps her write concise and original stories as she believes in working towards writing pieces that can enlighten people. ...Read More

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