The "Watermelon Sugar" singer opened up about being reluctant to go to therapy, which is a common obstacle to receiving mental health care, especially in men.
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Harry Styles attends the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards wearing a yellow plaid blazer and purple scarf against a teal blue background
Credit: Getty Images

Harry Styles made an iconic appearance as the cover star of the Better Homes & Gardens June issue. In his interview with the publication, which dropped online at the end of April, the musician opened up about how he spent his time in quarantine during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many, Styles found himself getting introspective while spending more time at home. One of the things he thought about the most was his people-pleasing tendency, something he's been working on in therapy, he revealed to the publication.

"In lockdown, I started processing a lot of stuff that happened when I was in the band," he said in the interview, referring to his time as a member of One Direction. At the beginning of his stardom, Styles was encouraged to be likable, which lead to a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, shared the singer. For instance, journalists would ask him invasive questions about his sex life when he was a teenager. Instead of ignoring them, he would answer, despite feeling uncomfortable, because he thought that's what he needed to do to be liked and accepted, he told the magazine. "Why do I feel like I'm the one who has done something wrong?" he said.

These are the sorts of situations Styles has been working through with a mental health professional. However, he admitted he initially didn't want to go to therapy. "I thought it meant that you were broken," he told BHG. "I wanted to be the one who could say I didn't need it." (Related: Why You Physically Feel Like Shit After Therapy, Explained By Mental Health Pros)

Styles started going to therapy about five years ago, finding that it allowed him to "open up rooms in himself," he said. It helped him get in touch with his emotions, rather than "emotionally coast," as he did before. Now, he's working on issues related to dating, love, and relationships with his therapist, and his efforts seems to have had a positive effect on his outlook toward all aspects of his life.

"I think that accepting living, being happy, hurting in the extremes, that is the most alive you can be. Losing it crying, losing it laughing — there's no way, I don't think, to feel more alive than that," he said. (Related: How to Know When It's Okay to Stop Therapy)

Styles is certainly not alone in his hesitation to go to therapy. In fact, 47 percent of participants in a study conducted by Onepoll on behalf of Vida Health said they feel like going to therapy is a sign of weakness. Additionally, women are more likely to seek mental health treatment than men (about 25 percent compared to 13 percent), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What's more, research has documented the societal pressures put on men to avoid being labeled as emotional or sensitive, and various studies link this type of pressure to a reluctance to seek help for mental issues. So when men, especially those with a large following such as Styles, do open up about their positive experiences with mental health care, they're rejecting the status quo. It sends a powerful message to those considering seeking care.

Whether you're famous or not, therapy can be a safe space to navigate challenging and overwhelming experiences with the help of a professional. "One of the advantages of talking to a therapist is that he or she might feel freer to offer alternative perspectives on a situation as compared to a friend, who might be more inclined to agree with you or comfort you," New York–based psychotherapist Andrew Blatter previously told Shape.

Here's hoping that Styles' honesty about his mental health struggles serves as reminder that therapy is okay and normal, and can be a helpful step.