J Balvin is taking his mental health advocacy to the next level. After years of sharing his own journey with anxiety and depression and pushing to destigmatize mental health in the Latinx community, Balvin announced that he's launching Oye, a bilingual mental wellness app, in fall 2022.
"Through my own journey with mental health and wellness, I was inspired and committed to bringing resources to more people around the world," Balvin says in a press release. "With OYE, we have created a community-focused platform that will provide engaging and accessible emotional wellness practices for all."
Oye will feature daily wellness practices in both Spanish and English, including guided reflections, routines of "expressive movement," and guidance for improving relationships. In addition to Balvin, the leadership team includes the singer's therapist, Carlos Lopez (noted as one of the leading psychologists in Latin America on Oye's website), and wellness leader and mind-body connection expert Mari Sierra. Together, Lopez and Sierra will cochair Oye's Wellness Council.
For Balvin, this feels like a natural next step in the mental health advocacy he's been committed to in the past few years. In 2020, the Colombian artist partnered with Deepak Chopra to produce a 21-day meditation series in Spanish and English. Earlier this year, Balvin was announced as the host of a Peacock docuseries, "Gente Sana," in which different celebrities will share their own mental health challenges and coping strategies. Oye, the press release stated, has grown out of Balvin's own experiences with mental health and the stigma that often come with it. "[B]ecause I am an artist who has had success, no one thinks I could ever have anxiety. But I have struggled with anxiety," Balvin wrote in a 2020 essay for People about his mental health. "And also, because I am Latino — I know there can be a certain stigma in my community when it comes to mental well-being. Many Latino men will not want to talk about depression, because they fear it is not a manly thing, or that they will then be known as loco. But I don't hesitate to say that I have been depressed."
As cofounder and Chief Dream Officer of Oye, Balvin will be "deeply involved" in the app's development and rollout, the press release says, along with the platform's mental health and wellness experts. "OYE is not a cure for acute mental health issues," notes Sierra, who will serve as chief wellness officer. "[I]t is a community content platform for making emotional wellness part of your everyday life through mind-body connection." The app's purpose, she says, "is to help the world feel better and empower the next generation to be more in touch with themselves, their bodies, and their people."
Oye will officially launch in September, but there's a good incentive to join now: if you sign up for Oye before it launches, you'll receive one year of free membership for the app's bilingual emotional wellness resources, plus personal updates from Balvin himself.