Joey Bartolomeo
March 08, 2010 12:00 PM

Last fall, while talking about her new album, Chynna Phillips admitted that daily life sometimes overwhelmed her. Recalling one typically hectic day’s to-do list, the singer—who had stepped away from her music career to raise kids with actor Billy Baldwin (daughters Jameson, 10, and Brooke, 5, and son Vance, 8)—explained how she had to take the children to school, pick up dry-cleaning, pay the nanny, make a dentist appointment, head to Home Depot—oh, and write songs with her new singing-songwriting partner Vaughn Penn. “I felt like all my plates were in the air and at any moment one would come crashing down,” she told PEOPLE, explaining how the experience inspired the title track of their album One Reason. “[I was afraid] I’d lose my footing and collapse into a puddle of tears.” A born-again Christian, she called the song a “prayer to Jesus saying, ‘Help me get my priorities straight.'”

Now she’s doing just that: On Feb. 12 (her 42nd birthday), Phillips voluntarily checked into an undisclosed treatment facility for anxiety. “She’s a very centered person, and when she feels herself getting pulled under, she addresses it,” her mother, actress Michelle Phillips, 65, tells PEOPLE. Although she calls her daughter’s anxiety level “distressing,” she adds, “Chynna will be fine.”

Described by a family friend as “normally bubbly and happy,” the singer sought help because “she wasn’t comfortable in her own skin,” says the pal. (Though Phillips has admitted to using drugs in her teens and 20s, sources say her treatment is not for substance abuse.) The crisis was triggered by “a combination of things,” says the insider, and Michelle admits she wasn’t surprised that Chynna was struggling: “It’s been a very tough year.”

The past several months alone have been difficult: On Sept. 23, only a day after One Reason hit stores, her half sister Mackenzie, 50, released her memoir High on Arrival, which dropped the bombshell that their late father, the Mamas and the Papas founder John Phillips, had an on-and-off sexual relationship with Mackenzie over the course of a decade. Chynna—who had been told about the incest years earlier—expressed support for her sister during a joint appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show but told PEOPLE at the time that she had “personal struggles” with the news. To make matters worse, Chynna was looking forward to talking about her career as a Christian artist and found herself having to address her father’s transgressions instead. “That really overwhelmed her,” says the friend.

That same month, Phillips, who strived to be the “perfect mom and wife,” according to the source, was emotionally torn when she and Penn headed out on tour—something she had never done as a mother. “It was exciting and very stressful for her,” says Michelle, noting motherhood is “the most fun thing in the world” for her daughter. Even though Chynna spoke to her kids every day, “it was very trying for her,” says Michelle.

Fortunately, things are already looking up for the singer. “I just talked to her and she’s very happy,” says her mother. “This is hard, but she knows she’s doing the right thing.”

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