The Ballad of Billy: Raising Awareness Around Mental Health

The Ballad of Billy:


Who? What? Why?:

(The above picture is me in my home recording studio!)

My name is Isaiah Freier. I wrote this song to inspire change and raise awareness around mental health in the United States of America. Right now, mental health is treated as a solved issue. However, this is not a problem that we can solve. Like many problems, the battle for those with mental disabilities is a constantly changing and developing battle and as a result we need to continually be listening and changing our society in order to help those who have mental disabilities. I chose to write this song about this issue for my cousin. His name is Micah, he’s 24, and he has been diagnosed with both autism and down syndrome. Micah has been fighting his entire life. As a child his condition caused him to have serious health problems¬†almost all the time and he had to have multiple surgeries just to survive his childhood. These procedures were expensive and incredibly difficult for my Aunt’s family. Micah’s condition continues to be difficult and expensive today and it will be for the rest of his life.¬†We as a society owe something to each other that is not explicitly acknowledged. We, by simply participating in our society, owe a certain amount of respect, love, and care to every other member of our society. Micah deserves those things too. I might even argue he deserves more of it than someone who is perfectly abled like myself. I wrote this song to try to raise awareness around this responsibility and to fight against ableism for people like Micah who cannot fight for themselves.


More Information on Down Syndrome and Autism:

Down Syndrome:

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21.
Down syndrome causes a distinct facial appearance, intellectual disability, developmental delays, and may be associated with thyroid or heart disease.
Early intervention programs with a team of therapists and special educators who can treat each child’s specific situation are helpful in managing Down syndrome.


Autism spectrum disorder impacts the nervous system.
The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors.
Early recognition, as well as behavioral, educational, and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning.


What Should We Be Talking About?:

I wrote my song to start some more dialogue around mental health and to raise awareness around the fact that people assume mental health is dealt with properly when in reality we need to be doing more to help people with mental disabilities. In the US people have stopped caring about people with mental disabilities. At one time research was building and it seemed as thought mental health was soon going to be an issue of the past. However, gradually dedication to the cause dissipated and mental health resurfaced as a primary issue. This space is meant to be a discussion around the topic of “What can we do as engaged people striving for a better world to better help people with mental disabilities?” This conversation should start around what things are currently wrong with the way mental health is being handled and can progress anywhere it might progress. Keep in mind while you’re discussing that the goals of this discussion are to raise awareness around this issue and to stimulate action towards fixing our broken system. Don’t be afraid to check out some of the articles I posted below for discussion inspiration. Please leave responses as comments and try to be productive as possible. Please leave evidence for any claims you make and assume everyone in the conversation has positive intent. Thank you.

(Please leave discussions as comments on my page. You can comment by scrolling to the bottom of the page.)

Inspiration/ Further reading (articles on the despicable state of mental health care in the USA):

Further Reading:



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  1. April 28, 2017 by Brendan Gill

    Thank you for telling the story of your personal connection to mental health issues, Isaiah. The US indeed needs to set some goals for mental health research, care, and awareness.

    • April 29, 2017 by Isaiah F

      Absolutely. We need to have higher standards for care nationally.

  2. April 30, 2017 by Susan

    Agree with you heartily about the need for far more awareness around mental challenges and far more resources to support people struggling with them. The other thing that would, ideally, come from greater awareness: reducing if not eliminating the stigma that surrounds mental health challenges. Music is a great vehicle for spreading awareness. Would be interesting to know if there are other musicians also focused on this topic. Thanks for your commitment and your work!

    • April 30, 2017 by Isaiah F

      I agree that raising awareness is a great way to dissolve the stigma around mental health. I think a lot of musicians write songs around mental health although I’m not sure all of them are quite as direct.

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