Rachel Stevens has spoken about the mental health struggles she faced while in S Club 7, saying: “I spent a lot of years pushing a lot of feelings and a lot of emotions away and not feeling them.”
The singer, who found fame in the 7-piece band formed by Simon Fuller in 1998, said there was “a lot going on behind the scenes”, despite the band’s child-friendly image with hits including S Club Party, Reach and Never Had A Dream Come True.
Stevens, 42, said it was difficult to grow up in the spotlight while she was still dealing with the repercussions of her parents separating.
'We're all real people with all the same struggles.'
Rachel Stevens tells the #LooseWomen why she believes it's so important for people to open up and talk about how they're feeling.
— Loose Women (@loosewomen) February 16, 2021
She told ITV’s Loose Women: “In a band like S Club we were marketed at a very young audience and it was very shiny and happy and everyone saw the sort of finished polished product and we were very packaged.
“Underneath all of that I had a lot of my stuff going on and my emotions and my things that were going on.
“As soon as the camera’s on and (you’re) going on and singing Reach, putting a smile on and putting a show on … but there’s a lot obviously going on behind the scenes.”
Stevens, who starred with the band in their own BBC television series, Miami 7, said she has been helped by therapy sessions.
She said: “I actually had personal therapy when I was 18/19. That’s when I first started having therapy and felt like I really needed to talk about all of my stuff that was going on that I really needed to just make sense of.
“I spent a lot of years pushing a lot of feelings and a lot of emotions away and not feeling them – which came from my childhood.
“I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk much about our feelings. I got used to internalising a lot of stuff.
“It’s so important to talk. To get those feelings out. The more they’re inside, they manifest and you internalise them and they become much bigger.”
She added: “I have therapy weekly. I need it as that kind of outlet. I think I’m someone who has always been a worrier, someone who thinks a lot, someone who internalises a lot and is incredibly emotional and sensitive.
“I think I need that person, I speak to my closest friends obviously, my husband, but other than that, having that person who is not so close just gives me that outlet to be acknowledged and make sense of it all when there’s not that emotional connection, which I think is really important.”
“It’s such a weird thing growing up in an industry where you see pictures of yourself all of the time … constantly seeing images of yourself which I think is really unhealthy.
“I went into S Club feeling quite insecure, not really knowing who I was and growing up publicly. I think all of that stuff plays into everything, really.”
Asked if she was ready for the kind of exposure S Club 7 brought her, Stevens said: “I don’t know. It’s a tricky one. I got into S Club at a time when I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil.
“My family had all broken apart, we’d lost our home, I was kind of just on my own quite a lot and just with my friends and working and kind of internalised all of those things.
“I went into the band and it was so exciting and a total escape from all of that stuff, but at the same time it allowed me to push down all of the stuff even more.
“And then everything was in the spotlight, so I kind of just got so used to doing what I’d always done as a child, but doing it publicly and just pushing everything away, not acknowledging all of these feelings I’d brought into the band with me.
“I would censor myself a lot. Even now, talking about this stuff, I’m not used to talking about this publicly but I think it’s so important to get the message out there.”
“I look at Instagram, look at these women who I think look amazing but actually behind the camera, they’re all real people, with all the same struggles, all the same feelings and all trying to make sense of our own stuff and it takes daily work to become the best person you can be and that’s what I’m trying to do every day.”
Loose Women airs weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV.