Living Without: Area singer songwriter tackles mental health in video

Julia van Allen

“Better off living within than living without.” Steve Carlson sings along to an acoustic guitar as the music video opens with an aerial shot of a wooden boat against the cityscape. Cars zoom by on a nearby interstate, and the video focuses in. Although Carlson’s album, PleasantVille, came out nearly 11 years ago, his new music video for the song “Living Without” arrived on the scene at the end of April ( The music video juxtaposes the somber acoustic track with images of a homeless man in the city. Carlson’s album, described as “haunting, poignant, atmospheric, and sharply satirical,” discusses issues inherent to the current landscape of America. The topic for this video in particular involved America’s homeless population and mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Carlson is using his platform as an artist to spread the word. One of the final screens of the video displays a shocking statistic from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 20-25 percent of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness. According to a report by Reuters, more than 500,000 people in the United States are homeless. The proportion of this nation’s homeless who don’t have access to healthcare, especially for mental illness, is significant. Carlson’s music video ends with the message, “You are not alone,” and it rings true.

Resources that can ease the burden of mental health are available through the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1-800-950-6264 or online at

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