Britney Spears Fans Stage 'Free Britney' Protest Amid Mental Health Controversy

Britney Spears' mental health has been receiving increasing attention from fans in recent weeks [...]

Britney Spears' mental health has been receiving increasing attention from fans in recent weeks after it was reported that the singer had checked herself into a mental health facility, reportedly due to her stress surrounding her father's health battle.

Many of her fans have become convinced that Spears has been being held in said facility against her will since January, and have begun spreading the hashtag #FreeBritney on social media as a result. On Monday, a group of around one dozen fans even gathered outside City Hall in West Hollywood to protest what they believe to be unfair treatment of the pop star, holding signs that read "Free Britney" and chanting things like "Hands off Britney" and "Justice for Britney," Variety reported.

A source previously told PEOPLE that Spears had checked into a facility for "all-encompassing wellness treatment," and another source told Variety that the 37-year-old was suffering from emotional distress. She has since been seen at a hair salon, and she was spotted out on Sunday after she was granted a one-day leave to celebrate Easter with her family, PEOPLE reports.

"Britney is still receiving treatment but had a short break this weekend to enjoy Easter. She spent time with Sam," a source said, referring to the singer's boyfriend, Sam Asghari.

Fans have become convinced of their theory in part due to an episode of the podcast Britney's Gram, which features a voicemail from a paralegal who claims to have worked on the star's conservatorship and alleged that Britney has been in a mental health institute for months against her will. The 37-year-old has been in a conservatorship under her father's control since 2008.

They also point to the fact that Spears has not been seen in public since January and has not updated her Instagram account in the same time period, save for her post shared the same day her mental health treatment was reported. In addition, their is speculation surrounding the cancellation of Spears' second Las Vegas residency, entitled "Domination."

Spears' sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, slammed rumors about her family on Twitter on Monday, sharing an old video of the Spears family surrounded by paparazzi.

"Don't come for me or the ones I love anymore," she added. "You can move the 'blank' outta here with all that, just like this other lady who was running her mouth."

Photo Credit: Getty / Scott Dudelson