There has been a social stigma surrounding mental health conversations for far too long of a time, especially in BIPOC communities. However, a few people are hoping to prevent future generations from suffering through the same traumas and stigmas surrounding mental health by tearing down barriers through utilizing modern technology and offering more accessibility — people like Eric and Brian Nam.
Eric Nam, best known as a K-pop artist and TV personality, is an entrepreneur.
In 2019, he founded DIVE Studios with his brothers, Eddie and Brian. In a short time, what started with one podcast of Eric and Brian bickering in between reviews of new K-pop releases has grown into a media company that is home to multiple podcasts with high-profile idol hosts and influencers. Their mission is “to positively impact culture & society by empowering diverse creators and communities through unique audio experiences.”
DIVE Studios’ latest project is MINDSET, a whole new type of audio experience.
MINDSET is in the form of a separate application rather than Spotify, Soundcloud, or Apple Podcasts as one might go to for other DIVE Studios’ projects. It offers individual audio collections from a variety of names that many K-pop fans will be familiar with, including Eric Nam himself. So far, Epik High’s Tablo, DAY6’s Jae, and KARD’s BM have released audio collections through the app, and more are to come.
Only about 2.5% of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) community go to therapy, and they have “the lowest help-seeking rate of any racial/ethnic group.” Asian countries, such as South Korea, still hold a significant social stigma regarding mental health and therapy; which is especially unfortunate since the AAPI community tends to suffer from trauma, discrimination, and high expectations, etc.
These reasons are why MINDSET is an essential and crucial step in the right direction.
Brian described MINDSET as a passion project of his and Eric’s in an interview with Bandwagon. He also said that he hoped that through celebrities’ personal stories, they would “enable meaningful conversations around mental health.” While many stars are stereotyped as not having real issues or struggles that could be deemed relatable, they still have the platform and influence that allows them to shed light on serious topics, ultimately helping to destigmatize.
Eric acknowledged his influence, and though he knows that many look to their idols for happy drama-free images, he feels a responsibility to be vulnerable. In episode six of his MINDSET audio collection, he explains, “I think it’s time to acknowledge that as a public figure, as a celebrity, as a singer, however, you see me — I have the opportunity to impact a lot of people. People who want to feel understood, who want to be uplifted, need and deserve to be inspired. And that’s my goal for MINDSET.”
Regardless of what you think about K-pop idols, many suffer from similar issues as you and I, from anxiety to depression.
However, the culture surrounding them and the pressures from their company shames them for wanting to seek help. The few who seek help request nothing to be put on records due to the taboo nature, while some companies employ personal therapists or counselors for idols for the same reason.
Eric revealed his struggles of having suffered trauma as a victim of racist bullying and harassment living as a minority in the States to then suffering culture shock when he moved to Korea. Later in life, he began to suffer from anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. As a result, he wanted to seek therapy. He was refused help and warned, “If somebody gets word that you are having a mental breakdown or you’re having issues, that can be a career-ending move.”
If you’re in a similar situation or environment, online resources and alternatives are available. Eric himself recommends visiting Better Help, which Jae also has used, and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
MINDSET couldn’t have come at a better time.
During the pandemic, we’ve all been through our own struggles. Although we’ve become more and more socially-distant, in some way, we relate to each other more than ever. Listening to others’ personal stories, especially those who, although they have suffered, have been able to overcome it and preserve, allows for us not only to feel solidarity but gain hope.
BM shared in the trailer for his MINDSET collection that, growing up, he couldn’t even have imagined successfully becoming an artist. He also revealed that he would be overcoming his insecurities by recording the collection by sharing personal stories. He said, “Man, that could be scary [opening up] because I’ve been through some things, and we all have. But I also know how much it helps to hear stories of overcoming struggles and challenges.”
The Nams don’t intend MINDSET to be a substitution, remedy, or replacement for professional help regarding any mental health struggles one might be facing.
However, it is a start in the right direction and will undoubtedly do good to one’s mental health. Brian explained, “Through the stories in the MINDSET collections, listeners will learn about the solutions that worked (or didn’t) for hosts, but each person needs to tackle their own mental health challenges in their own way.” Ultimately, he hopes sparking “conversations and awareness around mental health” will “lead to more people seeking professional solutions.”
The app itself is free, as are some of its contents for both Android and iOS. Each full audio collection costs $25 USD with a portion of proceeds going to a charity of the celebrity’s choice. Charities include: Doctors Without Borders for Eric Nam, No Kid Hungry for Tablo, STOMP Out Bullying for BM, or The Jed Foundation for Jae.
With each collection, you get access to 150+ minutes of premium audio content, broken up into short episodes of 5-23 minutes (perfect to listen to during miscellaneous activities such are transportation, washing dishes, etc.). The episodes even include text transcripts as well.
While all audio collections come with their own heavy topics, some contain warnings for issues such as depression, anxiety, suicide, death, and panic attacks.
MINDSET has social media accounts that regularly share inspirational quotes and snippets from the audio collections; and has been incredibly active for May for Mental Health Awareness Month. Each week of the month is dedicated to a different topic, such as “Build Healthy Coping Skills”; and each weekday features an event, such as a celebrity interview. They’re also teaming up with professional mental health experts to offer even more advice and care to those in need.
Have you downloaded the MINDSET app? Get it here and share your thoughts below!
Header: Eric Nam