NEW YORK (Reuters) - Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara sings about mental health and her battle with insomnia in new single "Sweet Dreams" released earlier this month, from her upcoming third studio album.

The "Scars to Your Beautiful" singer, who has previously addressed body positivity and self-esteem in her music, also puts out track "Shapeshifter" in the double single release.

In an interview with Reuters, the Grammy Award winner spoke about her new music and talking openly about mental health.

Below are excerpts edited for clarity and length.

Q: How would you describe the album?

Cara: "I always like to say that there's this running theme of duality and there's like kind of a thread ... and this album recounts a lot of ... the beginning and the end of that thread.

"The first half of that thread in the first half of that year being a little tumultuous, a little bit riddled with anxiety and stress and fear .... And then on the other end of that thread came the healing and the growth and this newfound sophistication I feel I've discovered within myself."

Q: How did you find that growth and sophistication?

Cara: "Doing therapy really, really helped. I started therapy a long time ago, and then I stopped for a while and I sort of neglected my mental health and neglected myself. And it wasn't until I got the proper help I needed through therapy and just making a bunch of changes in my lifestyle.

"I also now take medication for my anxiety, which is wonderful. I think it's worked wonders for me and I wish it wasn't so stigmatized."

Q: Why is mental health so easy for you to talk about?

Cara: "It's not a weakness. For a long time, I always felt like if I got therapy, if I took medication, it would be like ... I was succumbing to some sort of weakness.

"But there's a lot of strength in vulnerability and there's tons of strength and openness in being honest. So I look at it like that now and I just don't really apologise for what I need to do to be happy."

Q: What is it like performing again?

Cara: "It feels very strange because I'm not used to it ... Even holding a microphone for the first time was so strange when I did my performance recently ... But ... having gone through what we went through, I just look at it in such a different way and I feel I will definitely not take it for granted anymore."


(Reporting by Alicia Powell; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)