BTS song lyrics provide a lifeline for mental health advocacy
KUALA LUMPUR - K-Pop group BTS has not only won the hearts of legions of fans though their songs and showmanship, but they have also contributed to mental health advocacy.
While many of their fans may be oblivious to this fact, research papers presented by scholars during the recently-concluded Fourth BTS Global Interdisciplinary Conference have shed light on this.
An Indonesian scholar in her paper titled "BTS Empowering Influence on Overcoming Adversity and Embracing the Future” was inspired to continue her passion in architectural designs after listening to one of their English singles titled Permission To Dance.
One of their hit songs’ lyrics, co-written by Ed Sheeran: "We don’t need to worry... cause when we fall, we know how to land”, provide some comfort and inspiration to those in need of emotional support.
Interestingly, the scholar is not the only fan who values the significance of the lyrics. This author, a K-Pop fan herself, who was dealing with life challenges and circumstances that struck her family during the pandemic, found solace in them and they helped in managing her mental state of affairs.
BTS members themselves have been candid about their own struggles, discussing issues like anxiety, self-doubt and pressure. Their willingness to share their life experiences has helped de-stigmatised mental health issues and has encouraged fans to seek help.
Dr Maria Bernadett Carandang, a psychiatrist working for the Manila-based online space Hallyu Wednesdays for fans across all K-Wave fandoms, pointed out that through BTS mental health messaging, people were encouraged to keep checking on their mental state from time to time.
"There is no doubt that many of BTS songs tackle themes related to mental health. Their music often resonates with listeners who find solace in the relatable lyrics, fostering a sense of understanding and support,” she told Bernama.
The persona of each BTS member is no doubt influential and has a postive impact on their fans, she added.
Dr Carandang flew in from Manila to present her paper titled "BTS and the Self: Understanding Psychological Concepts Through the BTS Members”.
Concurring with her, clinical psychologist Brahmmakumari Balaranam said what was heard at the conference in Universiti Malaya (UM) proves BTS has opened doors for the global community to normalise talking about mental health issues.
"People replicate what BTS has done because they are getting across the message that music and songs are no longer just the extraction of emotions.
"But now, everyone is trying to find the nuance of it. It’s not just to sing that I’m feeling sad but to make sense of it, for example, ‘... why am I feeling sad?’, ‘... what can I do next?’ and much more,” added Brahmmakumari, who has over 10 years of experience in the field of mental health.
Citing her past experience dealing with migrants and refugees whose access to basic medical care is limited, what more mental health, Brahmmakumari said BTS and their songs were "opportunities” that people could best leverage to keep their mental health in check.
At present, BTS members Jin and J-Hope have enlisted in mandatory military service. The remaining members - namely RM, Suga, Jimin, V, and Jungkook - are focusing on their solo careers.
Organised by the International Society for BTS Studies and the UM, the conference hosted more than 45 scholars from around the world who presented their papers around the themes "BTS in Southeast Asia” and "BTS and the Future”.
The scope and horizon of BTS studies, as well as the effect of the group on the well-being of their financial fandom - aptly called ARMY - was the first held in Southeast Asia in which Malaysia hosted.
The first conference was held at Kingston University in London, England, in January 2020. The California State University Northridge of the United States hosted the second edition online due to the pandemic. The third edition was held in Seoul, South Korea, last year. - BERNAMA