Mental Health and the Big Reunion
Over the past few weeks I have been unashamedly spending an hour of my Thursday nights reminiscing over times gone by whilst watching The Big Reunion on ITV2. For those of you who have not yet viewed this slice of TV magic, the show follows pop bands from the 1990s and 2000s reuniting in preparation for a comeback gig at the Hammersmith Apollo.
Whilst I expected the reunions to be filled with bickering and cheesy pop, what I didn’t anticipate was the number of band members who have experienced mental health problems. It seems that the relentless rehearsing, touring, promotions and pressure to look good took its toll.
One of the first episodes I watched followed my personal favourites, the denim clad Irish quartet B*witched. To give you a bit of background, the band were catapulted into fame with an album that produced only number one singles. Because all of their singles topped the charts, the girls lived in perpetual fear of producing a flop. This was topped off with a gruelling tour and promotional schedule. When the first single from their second album reached number four in the charts, the band’s label dropped them resulting in the disintegration of the band.
It became apparent quite early on that only a couple of the band members are still talking (and they just so happen to be twins). When describing their experiences of pop stardom, it is Keavy’s story that stands out. With her twin sister Edele fronting the band, Keavy spent her time living in her twin’s shadow. This ultimately led to her suffering a serious bout of depression. When she finally confided in her sister, Edele asked the band’s management to allow Keavy some time away from their gruelling schedules. When the request was met with resistance, Edele admits that it was the point at which she realised that to those in charge, the girls were merely money producers. Keavy’s depression continued beyond the band’s demise and only after periods of counselling and hard work was she able to get back on track.
Similar stories are rife amongst the other groups reuniting. Sean from 5ive joined the band aged 16 and spent his time struggling to find his identity. This ultimately resulted in him suffering a mental breakdown and exiting the band. Keen to cover up the cracks, the band’s managers used a cardboard cut-out of Sean in 5ive’s final video, claiming he was suffering from glandular fever. It would appear that no real support was provided to Sean in his time of need – the use of a cardboard cut-out was a shocking display of callousness.
What The Big Reunion highlights is that positive mental health is not something to be taken for granted – it is fragile and if we are placed under too much pressure we’re all vulnerable. Let this act as a cautionary tale to the young manufactured bands of the moment – One Direction take note.
By Imogen Revell, Development Officer