On episode thirty-seven of DIVE Studios‘ podcast GET REAL, Joan Kim joined KARD‘s BM, BTOB‘s Peniel, and Ladies’ Code‘s Ashley Choi to talk about self-care. The conversation went even deeper as they began to talk about the subject of mental health in Korea.

Peniel explained that the country still doesn’t give much importance to mental health. Seeking help by visiting a doctor for mental illness is very taboo. Some even look down upon it. The few people that do go for help usually request that they don’t keep it on records.

Peniel said that he has heard some entertainment companies are finding an alternative solution. Recently, they are putting private psychiatrists or therapists on staff. This way allows the artists to talk freely to a company psychiatrist while not fearing that it might be going on any kind of record.

Ashley confirmed that this was true. Her company got a therapist to help the members out individually but also as a team. She shared her personal experience of how she was unable to speak freely with the therapist one-on-one.

I couldn’t really get personal because, at the back of my mind, I worried that she might tell the company even though you’re not legally supposed to. I was like, ‘What if?,’ because she was hired by our CEO. What if he’s like, ‘Tell me what she said.’?

— Ashley Choi

Because of this situation, she could never fully open up and be honest with the therapist. Peniel agreed with Ashley’s concern. He said, “Technically, the company is the one that’s putting the money into their pockets.” As a result, the hired therapists or psychiatrists feel under more obligation to the companies than idols.

On a positive note, Peniel and Ashley agreed that, within the past ten years, the topic of mental health has definitely improved in Korea, especially for idols. In the past, companies expected you to perform and be on stage, no matter what. Now, idols are being given breaks from promotions and are allowed to take a hiatus if they are struggling with anxiety. BM credits the fans for companies’ improvement on their mental health stance for idols.

We can thank the fans for that. If it wasn’t for the fans saying, ‘Let them rest,’ then, honestly, at the end of the day, it’s producer and product. We’re the product and, you know, the company is the producer and they have to supply for the consumers.

— BM

You can watch the full video clip from the episode below.