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Sharon Van Etten is studying to become a mental health counsellor

Sharon Van Etten has turned her attention to life outside the music industry and will return to school to study mental health counselling.

Etten, who has been supremely busy working on her new album, is also preparing for a huge show London’s Royal Albert Hall in a bid to ‘celebrate the diversity of modern New York City’ which will take place in August. The performance is in conjunction with the BBC Proms and will see Etten play alongside The Heritage Orchestra.

Looking beyond the immediate musical work, Etten revealed her plans to return to school in a bid to gain a degree in mental health counselling: “I’m going back to school again this Fall. It’s a long-term plan but I’m hoping that by the age of 50, I’ll have a degree in mental health counselling. I’m only a sophomore,” she told the NME.

[MORE] – Paramore’s Hayley Williams on mental health: “Getting healthy is a lifetime of process”

“It was a combination of a lot of things,” she added about her reasoning for returning to school. “I think about my teenage years when I first moved from home. I moved to a place where I didn’t know anyone. I was completely lost and influenced by anyone. They were some of the hardest years of my life. If I’d have known how to communicate, reach out, and find someone to talk to during that time, then maybe it wouldn’t have been as rough for me. I learned about communication and acknowledging emotion. That seems very natural to me now, but that took finding the right person to talk to,” she added.

“Sometimes I’ll meet fans, and they’ll tell me some pretty intense stories about how my music has helped them or what’s been going on in their lives. There’s a part of me that wants to sit down and talk to them longer, even though I know I can’t. I’m also not certified. But I acknowledged that it was an interest and a concern, as well as noticing their age group and what they were growing through. I connected with it because I was in that place before.

“I don’t want to tour forever. I want to have a job outside of music where I’m still communicating and helping people to get in touch with their emotions.”

Read the full interview with the NME, here.

For anybody who might be struggling to deal with mental health issues, here are some helpline numbers for you to talk to: 


Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)


Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 03444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)


No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline.

Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)


Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)