Sara Quin Speaks Candidly About Mental Health In New Zine

The musician talked to Do What You Want, a new zine raising money for mental health charities.


Musician Sara Quin has spoken candidly about suicide and mental health in a new zine Do What You Want. 


The one-off magazine, curated and edited by Ruby Tandoh and Leah Pritchard, is released next month, with all proceeds going to mental health charities including Mind and Beat. More than 700 copies were sold on the first day of pre-order alone. 


On the thinking behind the zine, Ruby told DIVA: “Over the years Leah and I have both suffered from mental health problems and one of the most difficult things about those times was how difficult it was to seek help, and how isolating the illness was. We both know first-hand the stigma of being mentally ill, of not being able to be honest with friends and family about why you have withdrawn from work, social plans, studies, relationships. 


“Although we have grown up in a generation that is more aware of mental health (and illness) than ever, we still felt that social pressure to “just cheer up” acutely. There is a real lack of understanding about the many different ways that mental illness can manifest, the things that trigger it, and what can be done to help.” 


Leah adds: “I think nearly all of us know someone who has struggled with their mental health - even if maybe you, personally, haven’t experienced mental illness. So many of us suffer in silence because we’re afraid of how people might react. That’s why we wanted to make this magazine. 


“As well as raising money for charities that help those with mental health problems, we wanted to make something that would provide a channel for people to engage with discussions around mental health and give a platform to those suffering from mental illness. As someone who has suffered trauma, and experienced anxiety and depression, my hope is that the magazine will promote empowerment and compassion in the face of the stigma, misinformation, and oppression that issues around mental health so often carry.”

In her interview with Do What You Want, Sara speaks frankly about her own experiences of mental health and how it’s impacted her career, telling music journalist Laura Snapes: “In the periods of our career when I've been really depressed or really struggling, I'm definitely not productive. That's not my zone at all. 


“I usually find that my areas of productivity are right before something bad is happening. Like almost a weird foreshadowing. So much of what we wrote for The Con, Tegan was going through intense relationship stuff and I was thinking “I'm in a great place!” and then my grandmother died and someone who was working with the band who we were really close to died and all of a sudden my relationship died, and I thought, ‘Fuck’. All of the music that I had been writing during what I thought was a really good time, I think seemed appropriately in line with the next couple of years, that were so bad and so hard."


In an illuminating conversation, Sara also talks about the recently-launched Tegan and Sara Foundation and its importance. "We live in a world where we are expected to advocate for ourselves and get the things that we need,” she says. “What if you can't? What if you don't have those skills? What if you didn't have a mom who kicked down your door and demanded to know what was going on with you? What if you are isolated socially and emotionally and physically from getting the help that you need? 


“I think that by servicing our own LGBTQ community we can help with that. I don't think of the Foundation like it's only going to help LGBTQ women. I think that when you strengthen some of these institutions or develop programmes that benefit people who are often ignored or forgotten or invisible, it ends up helping everybody. "


Do What You Want is £7, and available for pre-order now at




Only reading DIVA online? You're missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It's pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.  // //

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