J Balvin Says He 'Never Thought' He Would 'Suffer' from Mental Health Issues: 'I Need to Speak Out'

"I remember seeing people go to the psychiatric and I would be like, 'Why are they going there? They're crazy,'" Balvin said in an interview at Wall Street Journal's the Future of Everything Festival

J Balvin is opening up about his mental health journey.

On Tuesday, Balvin joined the Wall Street Journal's the Future of Everything Festival to discuss his new mental health and wellness app OYE, and why he thinks it's vital to keep the conversation surrounding mental health alive — especially within the Latinx community.

"I never thought that I was going to suffer about mental health. I remember seeing people go to the psychiatric and I would be like, 'Why are they going there? They're crazy,'" the reggaeton star, 37, told Ellie Austin in a clip shared with PEOPLE.

J Balvin, Musician and Entrepreneur, talks with Ellie Austin at The Future of Everything Festival in New York, on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Photo by Andy Davis for The Wall Street Journal. foefestival2022
J Balvin. Andy Davis/Wall Street Journal

"Because that's a stigma, something that has always been in the Latino culture or even around the world and once I started suffering from anxiety and depression, I understood that it was a chemical disbalance," he continued.

And though he never thought he would be someone who needed to seek help, he's now grateful that through prescribed medication he's found that balance.

"It depends on what level you have, but I never thought that I was going to be medicated," he said. "Which I feel really blessed because I have a way to ... you need chemicals to balance your chemicals."

He concluded, "So I feel that I need to speak out because I think ... I go to that pain with myself ... because we have a voice. So I think music is the way it's helped us to send a message. And I really can feel that it's to tell other people about mental health and how to help them."

Balvin has long been open about his mental health journey and how he's navigated through it while still maintaining his career in music.

In November 2020, during an appearance on En La Sala with Becky G podcast, he recalled some of the most challenging times in his life.

"I was just crying for no reason," Balvin said. "Didn't want to wake up, didn't want to eat, didn't even want to live — and I didn't know why."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 02: (Exclusive Coverage) J Balvin arrives at The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MG22/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue )
J Balvin. Kevin Mazur/MG22/Getty

Since seeking help and learning more about anxiety and depression, the musician said he can look back at his youth and identify what he was going through, things he did not understand at the time.

"You lose hope and you feel strange at every place you go. You feel like you are outside of your body," he added, describing a period when he was in bed for five days "waiting to die" before consulting a doctor.

Balvin said it's "still hard for me to accept" that mental health struggles can be "more powerful than you."

"It's okay not to be okay," he told fans on the podcast. "I understand you, I feel what you feel, you know? You might be having your 'best moment in life' and you're feeling like s---. I feel you, I've been there — I'm going there now. But I still have this faith that everything is going to be back to normal. I'm disciplined ... I try to live a healthy life."

In June 2020, Balvin wrote a personal essay for PEOPLE about his mental health advocacy, writing that mental health is "universal" and "does not discriminate."

"Mental health doesn't care about your age, your race, your background; none of those things," he wrote. "It doesn't care what you look like, or who you're dating, or how much money you have in the bank. Of course it's different for each of us. But it affects all of us."

"The truth is, anyone in the world can struggle with their mental health," the artist added. "And yet not everyone is ready to accept this."

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