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Steven Page to speak about mental illness in Halifax Tuesday

The former frontman for the Barenaked Ladies will be delivering the keynote address at the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia's 'Let's Keep Talking' event
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Steven Page (Matthew Moore/

Story by Matthew Moore and Meghan Groff

When most people think of Steven Page, a catalogue full of fun and light-hearted songs probably comes to mind.

However, the former frontman for the Barenaked Ladies will be having a more serious discussion Tuesday night in Halifax.

He will be delivering the keynote address at the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia's Let's Keep Talking event, where he'll share his personal experiences living with mental illness.

Page was diagnosed with depression in his 20s.

"When you're an artist, it's kind of easier to get away with being sick than it is when you're, say a banker," he said. "I feel like for a while I wore it as a bit of a badge of honour; tortured artist syndrome."

Page admits the rock star life was hard to balance with his mental health struggles. He believes,at first, channeling his feelings into songwriting allowed him to avoid taking care of himself.

"I thought it was just too much work for me to have to admit what was going on and what needed to be done," Page explained. "Unfortunately it took some major heavy changes in my life to make me think about it harder."

One of those changes was leaving the band he co-founded, which Page did in 2009. He admits it was a rough time in his life.

"In my late 30s all kinds of crap happened in my life," he said. "Everything from getting divorced, to splitting up with Barenaked Ladies, the infamous drug arrest that I had in 2008. All kinds of things that, whether they were caused by or manifested in more struggles, made me take it more seriously."

He hopes telling his story will help others open up to share theirs, adding the more people who publicly talk about their experiences with mental illness, the more opportunities there will be for understanding.

"Stigma -- which is a big thing -- is not just about your peers or community thinking that it's not a real struggle," he explained. "It's your own internal voice doubting whether your illness is as valid and legitimate as anybody else's illness."

Page also plans to play a few songs at Tuesday night's event, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Spatz Theatre.

He'll be returning to Halifax in early July for two sold out shows at The Carleton.


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