Adam Ant: Antmania and mental health

A lot of the time you can’t take these problems even to close family because you fear that you’ll alienate them. So anyone in the public eye that comes forward and discusses it, I think it helps.Adam Ant speaking to the Sun

2013's swashbuckling return: Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter; released on his own label. Photo:
2013’s swashbuckling return: Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter; released on his own label. Photo:

Adam Ant, one of Britain’s most successful  pop stars, is raising the profile of mental health awareness as he promotes his first album in 17 years.

Adam and the Ants caused mass hysteria in the 80s – a moment in time regarded as Antmania worldwide – their albums went Gold, Silver and Platinum and Adam (real name Stuart Goddard), was considered a sex symbol and a seriously good live act to catch.

Their music has been credited by acts such as the Nine Inch Nails as an influence. Accompanied by fun visual videos, the Ants provided a unique soundtrack mixing punkish elements with spaghetti western guitars; introduced an African Burindi beat drum sound to the mainstream and produced interesting collaborations – in one instance, Ant worked with American writer and producer André Cymone, a bass guitarist touring with Prince to incorporate the Minneapolis sound into one of his albums.

Ant’s debut solo album, “Friend or Foe” in 1982 was a big hit but by the time of the release of Wonderful, in 1995 – his successes were getting moderately lower. He was dropped from his record label, disappeared and according to media reports,  he was suffering from the affects of fame. Then came reports that he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with. – Adam Ant speaking to BBC Radio

Adam Ant is touring again and speaking openly about the mental health problems he has suffered from since his youth and how he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 21.

The 1983 Mental Health Act needs a great deal of work. It’s extremely easy to get someone sectioned. – Adam Ant speaking to The Sun

Mental health services are in great demand and austerity cuts are causing closures when an increasing number of people are experiencing depression. The Guardian reported today that Bipolar UK, which has pioneered support for people living with bipolar disorder, is under threat of being closed unless it finds £100,000 within a matter of months. It helps thousands of people in a typical year and relies on independent donations for 90% of its income.

According the the Mental Health Foundation, depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with one in four people likely experiencing some kind of mental health problem in a year.

Women are more likely to be treated than men; suicide rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women and that suicide remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35 (Department Of Health, 2005).

Everybody’s condition is unique and the kind of treatments available are quite varied. It’s a very personal thing. But I’m writing again, performing again, and I appreciate how lucky I am.Adam Ant speaking to the Sun

With the release of Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter in January; reviews have been mixed and sometimes sarcastic about the content. A couple of songs on the new album address mental health issues – see “Shrink” – and reference other singers such as Marvin Gaye, who is reported to have also suffered mental health problems.

Every creative artist I’ve ever admired–Keats, Byron and Kurt Cobain–had bipolar disorder. A lot of creative people are born like that and it’s their different take on things that give them the edge. I wouldn’t wish bipolar disorder on my worst enemy. It’s inexplicably painful. It’s like going to hell. It’s very easy for me to lie and say: ‘Nah, it makes me a stronger person.’ It makes good copy but it’s not like that. It’s a fist in the skull. Adam Ant speaking to the Times

A documentary on Adam Ant, made by Jamie Reynolds of the Klaxons, follows Ant from 2010 as he creates new music and also touches upon the mental health aspects that have impacted his career. It premiered in 2012 and is currently looking for a distributor.

It’s nice to feel like you can offer some kind of comfort, because there is hope…The Blueback Hussar is me coming back to life… I was like a dead man walking. I look at boxer Muhammad Ali, who is the greatest person I have ever met, and the battle he has had with his health. I am a fighter too. They can hold you down, like they did me, but I’ll always be back. 
Adam Ant

The front page of The Mental Health Foundation’s website cites money and work as the two main causes of stress currently in UK adults. Of course there are many other factors causing stress and other mental health issues and ultimately tragic, human consequences.

Download a free booklet from the the Mental Health Foundation with 101 tips to beat stress here.

For more places to get the help you need, or to learn more and help raise funds and awareness on mental health; start by visiting Time to Talk, the Samaritans and Mind charities.

They call it bipolar disorder, that’s the modern term. It only means up and down, it used to be manic depression, black dog, whatever. It’s a subject surrounded by a lot of ignorance and taboo.Adam Ant to the Sun


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