James Arthur: ‘My parents put me in foster care and I’ve been pushed to the brink of suicide’
James Arthur is set to open up about the devastating effect being placed in foster care by his parents as a teenager has had on his long-term mental health in a new BBC documentary.
James Arthur: Out Of Our Minds will see the former X Factor winner, 34, face his demons head-on and discuss with his parents how their decision to give him up impacted his whole life.
The singer admits that he has battled with mental health “for decades”, and at times depression and anxiety have overwhelmed him.
And it was partly triggered by being put into care by his parents, Shirley and Neil, at 14.
His mum and dad split when he was just two years old, and both remarried new partners a year later.
When Arthur was nine years old, his stepdad, Ronnie Rafferty, moved the family to Bahrain, where they lived happily for four years.
That came to an abrupt end when he was 13, however, with the family suddenly moving back to the UK, and Rafferty “disappeared,” leaving Arthurs’ mum alone to raise four children.
A year later, at an emergency social worker meeting, his parents admitted they couldn’t cope, and he was sent to live with a foster family.
Arthur explained how his mother was struggling with mental-health problems and had needed his father to “step up”.
He was left inconsolable by the decision.
While he has tried antidepressants, therapy, and exercise to help, Arthur - who says he has moved “seven or eight times” in recent years - has now moved back to his hometown of Redcar to try to get closure on his past “trauma”.
Speaking to The Sun, he explained: “I decided that, to tackle my mental-health issues, I had to start by going back to my hometown to revisit my past, and the separation from my parents.
“I don’t fit in. I feel I might get closer to who I am with people who knew the weird little ADHD kid I was.”
He says he has “felt a lot of resentment” towards his parents over the years and did his best to keep them away.
But now, he sees his move as an opportunity to get to know them again and have the uncomfortable conversations that are necessary to deal with what happened.
There is still a bit of progress to be made in that department, however. he told the Sun: “We’ve not gone there fully. I need to talk to my dad. With mum, I don’t know if I’ve ever got closure from her — to hear her say ‘sorry’ without hearing a ’but’.”
Also set to appear in the documentary is Arthur’s ex-girlfriend, Jessica Grist, who was a dancer on The X Factor and was with him at some of his lowest points after he found fame.
Her dad committed suicide when she was 16 and she admits she feared at times during their relationship that her former partner could have been heading the same way.
James Arthur: Out Of Our Minds airs on BBC Three at 9pm on November 13.