Halle Bailey says mental health was ‘a priority’ growing up in the public eye
The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.
At just 22, Halle Bailey seems to have Hollywood in the palm of her hand, with a seemingly never-ending stream of new projects, including her highly anticipated role as Ariel in the live-action version of The Little Mermaid.
But Bailey is the first to admit that even having your dream career won’t stave off the stereotypical growing pains of adolescence.
“At 13 or 14 years old, I started touring with my sister,” Bailey, the younger half of the musical duo Chloe x Halle, tells Yahoo Life.
The two sisters have been signed to Beyoncé’s label, Parkwood Entertainment, since 2015 and have been nominated for four Grammy awards.
“We would constantly be in a different place like every other day, and I would have to be doing school on the road,” she says. “Those are like the years we’re like, starting to feel all these emotions and you get your period. And it’s like, ‘Wow, what is happening?'” she says.
She shares that this was a formative period for her mental health journey, explaining that the responsibilities she took on at a young age forced her to prioritize her mental health head-on.
“It was just a priority for me that I had to learn how to organize the compartments in my brain, especially when you have a lot going on,” she explains.
Balancing a multitude of exciting new projects is now second nature for the actress and Zyrtec partner, who says her busy career also impacts her physical well-being.
“I’m doing a lot and days go by fast, but sometimes they’re long and you just have to look out for yourself. Even now this morning, like my throat is dry and itchy, and my nose is a bit stuffed up and congested and for my allergies, Zyrtec is the one thing that helps me feel a lot clearer and just ready to take on the day,” she says.
To say the Georgia native is booked and busy would be a gross understatement. In addition to The Little Mermaid, Halle will play a young Nettie in the musical film version of The Color Purple, set to hit theaters in December 2023. And as her professional résumé grows, so does online interest in Bailey’s personal life. But since many of her fans met her as she was entering her teenage years, it can be difficult for people to see her as an adult, she says.
“They still see me as that 13-year-old girl that they first discovered and I understand how if you’ve been supporting somebody for a long time you get invested in their personal lives,” she says.
As grateful as she is for the continued support she has received from her fans, Bailey is in the process of setting boundaries surrounding matters outside of her craft.
“It’s definitely been a learning experience for me. And the beautiful people that have supported me and stuck with me for a very long time, can continue to support what I do publicly in my business affairs, and I really appreciate that, but everything else is my business. And I have to make that priority,” she says.
In terms of managing her own mental health, Bailey has found solace in an unexpected craft.
“I like making jewelry. I make bracelets, beaded bracelets and earrings. It’s really calming for me,” she says.
She has also found getting out in nature to be a great form of self-regulation and a reminder of what’s truly important.
“I find that when the world gets overwhelming, or hectic, I’ll go to the beach, or I’ll go hiking, or I’ll just put my feet in the grass. And I’ll just remember that all of this is amazing. But none of it really matters. I’m just here to just give back this gift that I’ve been given,” she says.
Of course, she’d be remiss not to mention her first true love — music — as a means to cope with heavy feelings.
“Making music is like a really big therapy for me. Just to get out everything I’m feeling. [It] has been since I was younger. It’s one of my favorite ways to communicate and just get out everything on a page,” she says.
But even with all the tools in the world, Bailey knows that low moments are often inevitable, and she has no problem opening up about not feeling 100% all the time.
“I’m at like a seven and a half, eight, mentally. And that’s like, you know, a good day, because especially when you’re moving super fast and busy all the time, schedules get crazy and hectic, it’s hard sometimes to really check on how you’re doing mentally,” she says.
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