"No one has ever grown up, in the history of humanity, like Justin Bieber,” record executive Scooter Braun says in episode one of the new YouTube Originals documentary series, Justin Bieber: Seasons. “No one has ever been that famous worldwide in an era of social media where every year of your adolescence you were the most Googled person on the planet."
Braun may be slightly overstating things, but it's true that people have been fascinated by Bieber since he was a kid. The 25-year-old was the top trending musician of 2010 (the year his first studio album debuted) and of 2019 (the year he married his now-wife, model Hailey Bieber, née Baldwin), according to Google.
That kind of widespread and enduring attention has an impact. And in the docu-series, the Canadian pop star seems ready to open up about the toll it's taken on his mental health.
The first 11-minute episode, which premiered Monday, follows him and Hailey to his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, Canada, where Bieber's story began.
“Starting out as a boy in front of the entire world and then transforming into a young adult — a teenager, and then a young man — everyone’s had to essentially watch him go through every phase of life,” Hailey says. "He has gone through so much in the last three, four years since his last album came out and he came out on the other side of some really dark times… He still is who he is and that's why people are drawn to him, because he has a story to tell."
But coming of age in the spotlight means learning to cope with huge amounts of pressure and scrutiny. Throughout Seasons's first episode, Bieber and the people close to him touch on how he's learned to put his himself and his mental well-being first — including the “Yummy” singer's choice to cancel the last 14 concerts on his Purpose World Tour in 2017.
“I remember the day where he said he didn’t want to keep going, and it was a very tough one,” Braun says. “He just wanted to get away and feel normal. And needed a break for a while.”
"At the end, he was tired and said, 'Look, I need a break,' and he took a very long break," Braun adds "In that time he's found his wife, he's grown a lot. I don't put any pressure on that timeline anymore. He's earned the right to do it in his own time."
That year, Bieber addressed the tour cancellation on Instagram, writing: “I want my mind, heart, and soul to be sustainable.”
The 25-year-old star has been candid on Instagram about his struggles with depression, and even offered tips to his followers about how to get through an anxiety attack. Although the first episode of the documentary only scratches the surface of Bieber’s mental health journey, friend Ryan Good — a creative director and the co-founder of Drew House — notes, “There was a six month period that was really tough for him, really dark.”
"Being human is challenging for everybody. We're all struggling to some degree,” Bieber says in the docu-series. “We all have our individual pains, and fears and anxieties, worries… My life is changing a lot. Getting married. Getting back to the studio. Talking about getting married and the process and just being creative in this new chapter. Being happy about what I'm doing. Being in a good headspace. A better headspace."
And now that he's in a better place, he plans to get back to doing what he says he does best: making music the world connects with.
"When you’re doing what you're good at, you just feel like you’re where you're supposed to be,” Bieber says. “I’m the best when I’m in the studio or, like, on stage."