Former Social Worker Quiets Own Mental Health Struggles Through Music

Submitted. Paul Federici knows all too well the depths to which one can sink when dealing with mental health issues.

A Master’s level social worker, Federici pursued a career in mental health counselling only to find himself fighting a silent battle.  “At one point my Dad had to come and move in with me – My nerves were so bad and I had become so depressed that I couldn’t be left alone for long periods of time,” Federici admitted. Known for his sense of humor and outgoing personality, Federici put on a fake smile, continued to show up for work trying push through his struggles with little success.  “At one point, I remember going to work one day, then driving to CAMH’s (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) Emergency room that evening unsure if I’d need to be admitted,” he said. Ironically, despite having the greatest opportunity of his young career, Federici had never been unhappier.

With things falling apart around him, Federici found himself turning to an old friend to try and cope – his acoustic guitar. A self-taught musician, Federici had quietly been writing songs for years, but rarely ever playing them publicly saying “I just didn’t think I was good enough, or that anyone would want to hear them.” It was that self-doubt, combined with battling an anxiety and panic disorder that saw Federici withdraw from pursuing a career in music. Years later though, it was like he had never missed a beat and the songs came pouring out. “Music got me out of that rut and gave me hope. Everything about playing again felt right – it reminded me to follow my heart and take chances again.”

With that realization, Federici felt it was time to let his guard down and tend to some unfinished business with music by recording his first professional album at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, ON. On January 29, 2012 Federici released Relative Importance and, contrary to his fears of no one wanting to listen, the record instead climbed to #1 on CFBU 103.7FM Brock University Radio’s charts, and that summer Federici took home a Niagara Music Award for Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year while also being asked to perform as part of the Hamilton Music Awards. Critics raved about Relative Importance, drawing comparisons to former Denis Morris high school mate Dallas Green of City and Colour. Hamilton Magazine praised the album as being “remarkably good,” and even Canada’s national music source Exclaim Magazine weighed in on the album writing: “I’m not sure if he’s quit his day job, but considering the honest quality of his music, chances are he will have that option soon.”

And that’s exactly what Federici did – He walked away from his social work career determined to find a way to carve out a modest living making music, and admittedly he’s never been happier. “When it comes to depression and anxiety we think so much about medication first, when often times the lifestyle choices we make have a profound impact on our mental health,” he said. On the heels, of a very successful first year as full time musician, Federici released his sophomore album Now and Then this past summer. The album has already won Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year at the 2013 Niagara Music Awards, while picking up a nomination in the same category at the 2013 Hamilton Music Awards. Federici is carrying that momentum into the spring where he’s embarking on and self-organized tour across Western Canada. Information regarding the new release and upcoming Spring Tour can be found at

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