Ahead of Eurovision 2016, Norway’s Agnete cancelled her promotional tour, openly citing her battle with mental illness and a need to prioritise her health over all else.
“Agnete Johnsen is a worthy winner of the Transparency Award,” Kristian Haugland, the director of Mental Health Norway said with the announcement. “She shows great courage when she chooses to be open about this when she’s in it.”
The jury of the prestigious prize awarded her with artwork and a cheque for 10,000 krone, which she donated to the Vadso Youth Center. Speaking to Good Morning Norway, the manager of the center said that the “Icebreaker” singer “wanted the staff and the youngsters to be given attention”.
Despite being a star — she won Dancing With The Stars two years ago and Nordic Melodi Grand Prix in 2008— Agnete isn’t fond of attention. She didn’t appear to accept her award, so instead dispatched her manager Espen Nystad.
“Adults must tell their friends that it is legal and essential to ask for help when struggling,” he said at the ceremony. “The hope is that future generations can talk about their mental health without being embarrassed about it.”
He has also hinted that Agnete may stage a comeback in the near future.
“She still writes music and will continue with her artistic career when the timing is right.”
Back in February she won the right to represent Norway in a landslide victory. Shortly afterwards she admitted she had psychological problems, which started when she was 14, and she subsequently withdrew from her promotional tour, partly because of a viral infection.
In Stockholm she did not walk the red carpet, rarely gave interviews and remained reclusive.
But plenty of former Eurovision singers rallied to her side and praised her courage for openly talking about her mental health.
On the night of Agnete’s performance, Eurovision winner Elisabeth Andreasson said: “I think Agnete is a strong girl. She makes the right choices, being careful and saving herself for the stage tonight. Agnete is sending out such an important message for girls and boys to follow their dreams and not let health get in the way.”