Ex-Barenaked Ladies member joins mental health awareness campaign

Scarborough artist Steven Page talks at UTSC

After his drug arrest in Syracuse in 2008, Barenaked Ladies co-founder Steven Page locked himself in the basement for days as media trucks parked outside his home.
Then his friends dropped by with a bucket of KFC, some sparkling water, and they played HALO on Xbox together.

“Just be there is the best thing a friend, family and coworker can do,” said Page.

Through stories and songs, the singer and songwriter shared his struggles with depression and bipolar disorder with the University of Toronto Scarborough community on Wednesday.

The presentation was part of the university’s month-long campaign to celebrate mental health awareness through workshops and lectures.

Page related to his school years and encouraged students to take advantage of the services offered by the university.

“You don’t have to be ashamed of what you are using it for or be secretive about it,” he said. “Times have changed. Outside the university system, if you wait, as I did, it could be expensive and time consuming.”

Equipped with a guitar and his signature bow tie, Page performed three tracks, Overjoy, War on Drugs and Brian Wilson. He said his artistic creations have made his mental health struggles easier.

“Music is the thing that could take me to another place,” he said. “For me as an artist, I have an opportunity that other people in other disciplines don’t have.”

The Scarborough-born artist also shares a deep connection with his birthplace. He attended Churchill Heights Public School and later met Ed Robertson at Woburn Collegiate Institute. The two formed the Barenaked Ladies in 1988.

“I know the area so well, although I haven’t lived here for quite some time,” he said “It’s lovely being in Scarborough. I feel like I’m contributing to the community.”

Following his departure from the pop rock band in 2009, Page wrote music for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and released a solo album, Page One, while advocating for mental wellness.

Page’s stop in Toronto will also include a solo performance at TEDx, an independently organized TED event, on Oct. 26 and at Koerner Hall on Nov. 4.