BY ALAN WANG
“All you need somebody to say… it’s okay to not be okay.”
Dropping another hit track, DJ Marshmello and Demi Lovato released their new collaboration song, Ok not to be Ok, on Sep. 10, otherwise known as World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).
In efforts to spread awareness around mental health, Demi Lovato and Marshmello partnered with Hope for a Day, a nonprofit movement encouraging the conversation on proactive suicide prevention and mental health education.
Especially during times of isolation, this song serves as an important reminder that it is okay to feel down and be unhappy.
Essentially, the verse-chorus song possesses lyrics that highlight the journey to the acceptance of one’s mental health problems. In the first verse, the song portrays an individual having trouble coming to terms with their mental health issues, even doubting that it is just “all in their head” for a brief moment. It is a harmful phrase many people hear that delegitimizes the pain and suffering that they might go through in their daily life, contributing to the stigma around mental health that Demi and Marshmello are trying to break with this song.
Continuing onto the second verse, the song concludes that “it is okay to not be okay” mainly because everyone is fundamentally human, and occasionally, problems like mental health are uncontrollable. Obviously, the song is not a one-for-all solution to psychological stability. However, it serves as a reassurance to those worried about the prejudice that comes with revealing their mental vulnerabilities.
Evidently, one of the song’s most thought-out messages can be seen in the music video. In the beginning, Demi and Marshmello are seen in their old childhood bedrooms waking up, confused at first. They get out of bed and start exploring their rooms to reminisce about old possessions such as a stereo and guitar. As the second verse begins, both Demi and Marshmello relive their old selves, however, one seemed despondent. Here, the spotlight briefly shifts to Young Demi, rocking her old bangs from her time in Disney Channel, looking at herself in the mirror with a frowning face. Out of nowhere, she vents out her emotions by throwing objects onto the floor, kicking shoeboxes, and hurling her bed covers.
Subsequently, young Demi returns to the mirror and slowly turns her head to a small smile. This serves as a reflection of her younger self’s struggles as a young teen within the entertainment industry. However, this time, fans can see that Demi slowly comes to terms with her past issues as she joins her younger self in demolishing her old room and hangouts with her younger counterpart because, as the lyrics align, she is not perfect.
Looking into Demi Lovato’s past, it is evident that she suffered a lot with mental health. She struggled with bipolar disorder when she was just 19, accompanied by eating disorders and ongoing depression. Ultimately, she had to undergo many ups and downs in her life due to being in the entertainment industry for so long.
Despite her previous adversities, her story on overcoming hardships such as drug addiction serves as an inspiration to many of her fans that might relate to her situation. In a show of true vulnerability, Demi opens to talk about mental health from her most recent single, I Love Me, with lyrics about her overcoming self-esteem issues and journey towards self-acceptance. In the song, Demi elaborates on relapsing her substance addiction due to her previous management forcefully taking food away from her such as fruit because it contained “sugar.” In her recent interviews, Demi makes it a point to share the segregation she felt when others attempted to control her actions because the people around her believed she could not take care of herself. Since then, Demi has made strides to vocalize the voices of those facing the large mental health stigma and proves to serve as a powerful role model that presents that it is fine to be flawed.
From a musical standpoint, it is safe to say that collaborating with Marshmello was a perfect choice. Known as a vocal advocate of mental health, his previous works encompass a style of uplifting tunes with relatable lyrics. For instance, his collaborative song with rapper Juicy J and James Arthur, You Can Cry, shows the imperative message that it is important to have close friends around for emotional support. Here, the singers of the song are comforting the listeners, telling them it is “okay to cry.” With lyrics such as “all the pain is finally over” and “everything is alright,” the artists are telling the listener to not bottle up emotions and it is ok to let out their pent-up feelings. Considering recent events, both of the song’s messages on prioritizing mental health is just what people need to hear during these times of social unrest.
In the end, the significance of the single is to stress the importance of mental health. Mental health proves to be a very severe issue during these times of isolation where people feel especially alone from the world, contributing to the increasing number of cases relating to depression. This song does not just go to lengths to offer the listener an uplifting and inspirational tune as a temporary relief, but rather, showcases the importance of coming to terms with oneself that it is fine to feel grief.
If you are struggling with mental health, remember that it is okay to not be okay.
National Suicide Prevention Line: 800-273-8255