Olly Murs has offered his support to ex-One Direction star Zayn Malik, after the singer pulled out of several concerts with “extreme anxiety”.
“It is definitely one of my worst fears and my heart goes out to Zayn,” Murs told BBC News.
The star befriended One Direction through the X Factor, where they were runners-up in consecutive years.
He said Malik’s anxiety had only surfaced since he had become a solo artist earlier this year.
“I feel for him, because he did seven or eight worldwide tours and he always had friends around him,” said Murs.
“Now, he has that daunting anxiety [of] having to come out on stage without those other guys around.”
So far this year, Malik has cancelled appearances at the Autism Rocks Arena in Dubai and the Summertime Ball in Wembley Stadium.
“Unfortunately my anxiety that has haunted me throughout the last few months around live performances has gotten the better of me,” Malik told fans after pulling out of the latter gig.
“I know those who suffer anxiety will understand and I hope those who don’t can empathise with my situation.”
Murs said that the sheer scale of the concerts could be the root of Malik’s fears.
“He’s got to start at theatres or smaller shows where he can build that confidence again. Once Zayn gets out there and starts performing, he’ll be great,” he said.
“It’s just that initial thing of getting over the line. But fingers crossed he does get to perform that album at some point.”
Malik is not the only pop star to suffer anxiety. Selena Gomez recently cancelled the remaining dates of her world tour, citing the anxiety and depression that are side effects of Lupus, the auto-immune disease from which she suffers.
Justin Bieber also said his touring schedule was leaving him “mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression”. He subsequently cancelled “meet and greet” sessions with fans before and after his shows.
“You have to put your heart out to those guys for coming out and being honest,” said Murs. “You’ve got to remember they’re young and the pressure is massive.
“People have paid for their tickets and they want you to entertain them. It can take its weight on you.”
The singer admitted he had also experienced “difficult” nights on tour, but tried to soldier through.
“I’m not going to moan about it because these are our jobs. That’s what we get paid to do,” he said, indicating a poster on the wall of his management company’s office that reads: “No whining”.
“Whining and whinging… you shouldn’t,” he continued. “You should just get on with it.”