By Leah Greenblatt
March 29, 2019 at 03:00 PM EDT

Pop stardom may be a dream job, but the artists who make it still struggle with many of the same realities their fans do.

This week’s EW cover stars BTS have made a point of bringing the feelings nearly everyone experiences at some point in their lives —  sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem — into the light, both in their song lyrics and in the missions they support, like their Love Myself campaign (which they presented at a United Nations youth summit last September) and #ENDviolence partnership with UNICEF.

During a recent interview at the Seoul headquarters of their record label Big Hit Entertainment, the band sat down with EW to cover a whole range of topics (their experience at the Grammys, their secret hobbies, why they love John Cena). But they got serious, too, on the topic of mental health.

Asked whether they found it harder or easier as celebrities to put their private pain out there in songs and on social media, Suga was adamant: “We feel that people who have the platform to talk about those things really should talk more, because they say depression is something where you go to the hospital and you’re diagnosed, but you can’t really know until the doctor talks to you.

“So I think for not just us but other celebrities,” he goes on, “if they talk about it openly — if they talk about depression for example like it’s the common cold, then it becomes more and more accepted if it’s a common disorder like the cold. More and more, I think artists or celebrities who have a voice should talk about these problems and bring it up to the surface.

RM elaborates: “That’s why we have the concept Love Yourself. We don’t want to preach ‘Do this or don’t do that,’ because that’s not the way that we want to spread our message. Like for example, say, Anna from New York or Marc from Rio or me or you, we have different looks, different races, different parents and backgrounds, different weather, whatever. Everything’s different.”

“We’re born with different lives,” he continues, “but you cannot choose some things. So we thought that love, the real meaning of it, starts with loving ourselves and accepting some ironies and some destinies that we have from the very start. But we never chose that, so instead of preaching or [giving] orders, that’s why we committed to loving yourself and that’s why I started with ‘I’m just an ordinary boy from city near Seoul in South Korea’ at our U.N. speech.”

For the band, the music is the message, too — and it goes both ways: “Our greatest influence,” says Suga, “and where we draw our strength and our comfort and our joy is the fans, So we always have that in mind when we make our music, and I think our fans are also able to get that same strength or joy.”

For more on BTS, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, buy it now, or scoop up our limited-edition BTS poster. And don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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