Studies show Black men are particularly concerned about the stigma of mental illness, and apprehensive about seeking help.
Wizdom Powell, PhD, MPH, director of the Health Disparities Institute at University of Connecticut Health and associate professor of psychiatry, said that men of color are generally discouraged from seeking any kind of help, including help with mental health issues.
But some brave men in the very public eye, have decided to tackle the issue hoping to change the way the Black community views getting help.
Earlier this month, Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to help improve mental health services in Chicago. Six mental health providers in Cook County will each get $100,000 grants, and SocialWorks is starting an initiative called “My State of Mind” to help connect people with treatment.
NFL player Brandon Marshall, who struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, started a nonprofit Project 375.org to help eradicate stigma, increase awareness and improve training and care for youth. He wrote a powerful essay called “The Stigma,” last year, where he was candid with his own battles and some of his coping mechanisms that included meditation and journaling.
The conversations around health are happening in other ways, in interviews, on albums, online and on screen.
Jay-Z has come out in interviews to talk about how the experience of therapy helped him grow as a man, overcoming situations, which he describes in his lyrics.
On his album “4:44,” he released a mini documentary “Footnotes for MaNyfaCedGod,” where he gathered a group of Black men to talk candidly about therapy, self-care, and mental health awareness.
He also advocated for therapy at younger ages and in schools.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted about his mother’s suicide attempt on social media and went on “Oprah’s Master Class” on OWN to discuss his own depression and how important it is to know that you are not alone in your struggles.
Rapper Kid Cudi, in posting about and seeking help for his anxiety struggles back in 2016, inspired users on social media to start the #YouGoodMan hashtag, which became a place for Black men to share knowledge and their stories with support.
Primetime TV shows are breaking the silence in the Black community as well.
Sterling K. Brown star of “This Is Us,” Romany Malco Jr. of “A Million Little Things,” and Kendrick Sampson and Issa Rae of “Insecure” all struggle on screen with issues and survive.
These actors are tackling conversations around getting help for depression, suicide ideation, panic attacks, and trauma — many issues that plague the Black community based on everyday living experiences.
And talking about it helps.
Marcus and Markeiff Morris, twin brothers and NBA players talked to ESPN about their struggles with depression and trauma from growing up in a violent neighborhood. Marcus Morris, who shared their story, encouraged others, “If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you.”
Markeiff, initially agreed to speak about his illness, but bowed out, possibly a sign that he’s not quite ready. There are many men like him.
Hopefully, the more men that come forward to advocate and share, the more others will feel empowered to do the same.
Reader Question: Why do you think Black men struggle to speak openly about their how stress impacts their mental health