Korean rapper San E released a haunting music video for his song “Counselor” on Monday. Filmed over a span of a week, the clip displayed the daily life of the artist and his struggles with mental health.
The song and video appear to serve as a rebuke by the rapper toward the pill-happy attitude of treating psychological issues.
The hazy, echoing melody and stilted drumbeat of the song serve as a canvas for San E’s slick rap as he addresses his internal and external debates over seeking help for his reliance on Xanax and Zolpidem, which treat anxiety and insomnia, respectively. “Counselor” evokes the artist’s inner-demons through a distorted, deep voice telling him to get more meds: “This counseling sh– is bullsh–/ He’s not even a real doctor/ All you need is more pills.”
The accompanying music video features San E going through the nightmarish highs and lows of mood changes associated with anxiety and depression. The video depicts the musician meeting with a doctor — who tells him that there’s no easy way to fix mental health issues — and later being discovered after ingesting too many pills as he attempted to find solace from his emotional battles.
“Counselor” was released in January on San E’s Seasons of Suffering EP and is the second song off the album to address controversial issues. “Bad Year,” a homonym for “bad bitch” in Korean, garnered attention for its tongue-in-cheek references to disgraced Korean President Park Geun Hye.
Mental-health awareness faces major stigma in South Korea, where suicide is increasingly common. San E is just one of several musicians raising awareness about emotional health issues; BTS’ Suga also released a mixtape about his anxiety and depression last year about it.
Watch the music video for “Counselor,” of San E re-enacting the struggles of living with mental health issues: