Hunter Hayes Says Pandemic Made Him Refocus on Mental Health: 'Destigmatizing the Conversation'

The country singer and One Mind Champion got candid about how adjusting to the new normal of COVID-19 made him reprioritize mental wellness

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The coronavirus pandemic made last year a difficult one, and Hunter Hayes has opened up about how the outbreak forced him to refocus his mental health.

On Tuesday, the 29-year-old country singer got candid in conversation with Entertainment Tonightabout how adjusting to the new normal of COVID-19 made him reprioritize mental wellness.

"I've heard it from a lot of different walks of life, a lot of different stories, and a lot of different sort of histories, and definitely felt it myself," the "If You Change Your Mind" singer told ET of the mental health challenges felt by many throughout the last year.

Hayes has partnered with mental health and brain research nonprofit One Mind as a One Mind Champion, serving as the first ambassador for the new program. Now, he will work to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of conversations surrounding mental health.

"I mean, I know for me what the past sort of year was, not just exclusively because of the pandemic, but also just because of big life changes. I think it invited me to share more of my story, share more of the things I worked through," he explained. "And it also felt safe, because I think before, I may have been a little hesitant to share as much of my story as I do now."

hunter hayes
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"Because you're always worried — I was always worried that — I didn't want people to have a negative attachment to the conversation about mental health," Hayes shared.

Acknowledging that it can be difficult to be vulnerable, the singer-songwriter said "there's a lot of positive" that comes from being honest with yourself and your headspace.

"And, I just thought, I was really, really passionate about being a part of these conversations... and opening up the floor, destigmatizing the whole conversation," he said of a revelation.

Reflecting on his own journey, Hayes said he's struggled with negatively limiting himself in the past.

"My personal journey has been a lot about understanding my own truths," he revealed. "And it's amazing what's happened when I've… [had] just enough strength to push past that first boundary, I realized that there are no more boundaries, really, that one's going to keep in my head."

"Those limiting beliefs have been something I've really had to work through and work on. But then, I've realized that they're just beliefs, they're not true," he added.

Musically, Hayes said he's put his heart into his upcoming album Red Sky (Part II), the second spin of an album trilogy following Wild Blue (Part I), released in 2019. The new record will be released this year.

"I like how long it's taken me to work on this album, because I got to get through a lot of things I thought I would really love and really wanted to do," he told ET of his latest work. "I'm excited for the world to hear it."

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