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An Open Conversation about Mental Health through Music

Mental Health is considered a taboo subject in society. For decades, people have shied away from either speaking about it or addressing it at all. For a long time, many believed that illnesses such as depression, and anxiety were either made up or made you incapable of achieving greatness. Recently, artists specifically black men have been expressing their mental health struggles in their music. From artists such as Big Sean and Wale to Kid Cudi and Kanye West, these artists are not only speaking about their struggles, but hoping to change the conversation on mental health. 

In the African-American community, mental health is not often talked about. According to Mental Health America, “Black and African American experience in America has and continues to be characterized by trauma and violence more often than for their White counterparts and impacts emotional and mental health of both youth and adults.” Depressive episodes and suicide rates have significantly risen not only in the African-American community, but specifically when dealing with African-American men. Artists have begun to speak about their mental health journey’s in hopes of lowering these statistics. 

On September 7th after the release of his album Detroit, Big Sean had an open conversation on twitter with fans about the process of creating this album and the toll it took on his mental health. "I don’t feel like this currently, but I had never gone through wanting to kill myself, give up on my life until the past few years and I didn’t realize how important it was to embrace the ups n downs of life and enjoy (in joy) taking active steps to better it. it’s the Journey!" This wasn’t the first time he has openly spoken about his mental health. He is a big advocate for mediating and on several occasions has cited how it has helped him deal with his depression and anxiety. 

Another artist who’s been very open with his mental health journey is Kid Cudi. Since a 2013 article he released with Complex, he has been open about his struggles with substance abuse, depression and anxiety. In this interview he revealed that at first he didn’t seek help due to the stigma of having a therapist made you “crazy.”  “A year ago I wouldn’t even go to a therapist or psychiatrist.” Though regularly speaking to a therapist and attending rehab he was able to get himself to a place that was healthy for him. 

One of the most popular songs of 2018 was a song titled 1-800-273-8255 which is also the national suicide prevention hotline number. The artist, Logic has openly spoken about his struggles with suicide and depression. He has also advocated for the conversation to change the view about mental health. In a 2018 interview at the Grammys he said  “I am bringing up and shedding light on the negativities that have shown themselves in my life to paint the picture of letting go and of setting myself free and surrounding myself in happiness.”

As Septemeber is suicide awareness month, it’s important to advocate for safe mental health practices and also reshare flyers where people can achieve aid. It’s also important to remember to respect people’s mental health journeys. No one’s journey is the same and just because someone’s coping looks a little different, doesn’t mean what they're doing is wrong. 


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