Singer-songwriter Lauren Crosby of Georgetown wrote her latest, Sheepscot Valley Enchantress, about mental health topics including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Photo courtesy of Lauren Crosby

BATH — On her latest album, “Sheepscot Valley Enchantress,” Georgetown-born singer-songwriter Lauren Crosby plucks an acoustic guitar crooning folk songs about mental health, including anxiety, depression, suicide and her own experiences.

Crosby partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maine to release the album, and $1 from every album will be donated to the Hallowell-based non-profit. NAMI Maine aims to support the one in 4 Mainers who struggle with mental illness through education and advocacy.

The nine-track album is Crosby’s first solo acoustic album, a choice she made because “this album is really personal to me so it’s very raw.”

“A lot of this album stemmed from living alone as a young, single professional woman,” she said. “I’m a self-employed female solo artist and the weight of never feeling like I was doing enough or doing the right thing. It wears me out. Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly in a world of self-doubt and loneliness.”

She said songwriting has been a form of self-expression for her throughout her career, especially when she’s dealing with negative emotions, and wants people listening to her album to be inspired to “create their own avenue of dealing with their own feelings.”

The slower, acoustic-folk style is a side-step for the Georgetown native, who said she’s used to producing alternative folk music but normally uses a full band in her songs. She said she wanted to produce the album alone to show listeners “you don’t need a big fancy studio or equipment to express yourself.”

Crosby has also worked as an English teacher in Alaska and South Korea and now teaches English at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle. She said some of the songs on her new album were inspired by things she has watched her own students grapple with, such as depression and anxiety.

Of all the songs on the album, she said the song “Fly High” holds the most weight for her, because it was inspired by one of her students who committed suicide in 2017. In the slow, meditative song, she sings: “I was sipping coffee halfway around the world when I heard the news and felt my stomach curl. I got lost in the past thinking about the warning signs, all the young people I know that I’ve never seen cry.”

Crosby’s students aren’t alone. According to the 2019 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, Maine high school students who felt sad or hopeless for at least two weeks in a row in the past year rose from 26.9% in 2017 to 32.1%, a total of about 17,000 students, in 2019. Students who in the past year seriously contemplated suicide rose from 14.7% to 16.4%, to reach nearly 8,900, the survey said.

In Sagadahoc County last year, 35.7% (503) of students reported feeling hopeless or sad (46.8% female and 24.5% male), and 19.3% (272) said they had seriously considered attempting suicide (25.2% female, 13.2% male).

Melissa Fochesato, director of Community Health Promotion at Mid Coast Hospital, said although many Mainers, both children and adults, are impacted by mental illness, there are resources available to help them. However, often asking for help is the hardest thing for people in need.

“Making people as comfortable talking about their mental health as they are talking about their physical health is our goal, and that’s something songs and media can be so helpful in,” said Fochesato. “Anything we can do to raise awareness and normalize mental health is important.”

Crosby published her first album in 2014, launching her music when she was 19-years-old. She created another album in 2019 before writing “Sheepscot Valley Enchantress,” named after a flower she thinks of when she finds herself in spells of self-doubt.

“People deal with mental health in so many different ways, and it’s so important to be able to express those darker sides or yourself and not hold it inside yourself until you explode,” she said. “I want people to see they can do creative, beautiful things with their emotions rather than hurting themselves.”

The album will be released on Oct. 30 and is available for pre-order at lauren-crosby.com.

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