THE Glastonbury Festival has over the years given rise to many memorable performances and unforgettable moments. Few, though, have been as honest or as emotionally affecting as Lewis Capaldi's performance a week ago today.

The Scottish singer-songwriter has been commendably open about his Tourette's Syndrome, as about so many other things in his life. He enjoys international fame. Not many artists of such renown would have been so frank.

It was on Instagram Live that, last September, Capaldi told the world that he had been diagnosed with Tourette's. Finally, the involuntary tics that he had increasingly been noticing could be understood. In his own words: “When they told me, ‘We think you’ve got Tourette’s’, I was like, ‘Do you know what? That makes so much sense’. When I look back at my interviews from 2018, I can see that I’m doing it.”

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He wanted to speak about it, he added with a characteristically self-deprecating flourish, "because I didn’t want people to think I was taking cocaine or something".

The recent Netflix documentary about Capaldi focused on his remarkable career but also, unavoidably, alighted upon the tics that he had lived with since childhood. He has since quipped that he had become the "poster boy for Tourette's", and he has been testing, in a clinical trial, a smartwatch-like device that sits on his wrist and can reduce tics.

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At the start of June he acknowledged that he was struggling, both mentally and physically, and, with regret, would be cancelling all his commitments prior to Glastonbury. It's in that context that his performance there has to be seen.

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During his best-known song, Someone You Loved, Capaldi seemed to be losing his voice but the vast audience carried him through by singing for him. It was a powerfully moving moment, in which the audience's love for and sympathy with Capaldi, suddenly vulnerable, was made plain.

Video clips showing the song have been viewed many millions of times. 

This was not the first time that his fans have lifted Capaldi through this particular song. It happened last February at a concert in Germany when he reportedly had a flare-up of Tourette's and his fans helped him sing the final chorus.

You do not need to be a fan of Capaldi's music to have been struck by the message the audience was sending out. As our columnist Neil Mackay observed earlier this week, it was not about the music. It was about kindness being shown to someone in need; it was a display of almost unconditional love by a group of strangers towards another stranger. It was so rare it could break your heart, Mackay said, adding that he would remember Capaldi's Glastonbury set for the rest of his life.

Shortly after the festival, Capaldi issued a statement to the effect that he would be taking a break from touring for the foreseeable future and that he was still learning to adjust to the impact of his Tourette's.

On social media and elsewhere, he has been praised for his honesty. The actor Aidy Smith, who has the condition, has said it took him 15 years to talk openly about it. "To say that [Capaldi] has only been diagnosed within the past year, and he's gone on that stage and he's sung his heart out - the courage in that is just absolutely beautiful".

Others make the point that Tourette's, so long mocked by comedians and the general public, has won a significant measure of acceptance thanks to Capaldi. (The singer Billie Eilish has spoken of her own Tourette's, observing that the most usual reaction to her is for people to laugh, thinking she is trying to be funny).

Many men do find it difficult to talk openly about their own mental health issues. It's a sobering fact of life that society's expectations, and the traditional gender stereotypes, help explain why men are less likely to talk about their problems or to seek help with them.

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The Mental Health Foundation adds that men are often expected to be the breadwinners and to be strong, dominant and in control. These are not inherently bad things; but they can make it harder for men to reach out for help. Men are also more likely to use drink or drugs as coping methods, but research also shows that men will get the help that meets their preferences and is accessible, meaningful and engaging.

The Herald: Lewis Capaldi headlined the Latitude Festival last yearLewis Capaldi headlined the Latitude Festival last year (Image: Charlotte Bond, Newsquest)

Capaldi is not the first celebrity to be open about mental health issues. Singer Selena Gomez once cancelled European tour dates, citing anxiety, panic attacks and depression; singer Shawn Mendes postponed much of a world tour in order to take care of himself and his mental health. The American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the individual all-around final at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after pulling out of the team event over mental health concerns. There are many other examples.

Capaldi - who is still, let us remind ourselves, only 26 years old - will take as long as necessary to focus on own mental health and to learn to adjust to the impact of his Tourette's. We join his many fans in wishing him well. In being so candid, he may also have provided all of us with an invaluable reminder about the importance of good mental health.