The 32-year-old recording artist and actor’s been open about his mental health throughout his career. Citing depression and suicidal urges, Mescudi revealed he made the decision to check himself into rehab.
“My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it,” he wrote. “I cant make new friends because of it. I dont trust anyone because of it and Im tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace.”
The dialogue here is important.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health issues than the general population. The concern is heightened when looking specifically at Black men — who are exposed to many factors that exacerbate mental illness — and, as NAMI notes, though women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die from it.
It’s a stark and frightening reality within a community where mental health either goes unchecked or is highly stigmatized.
“Black men are slow to get evaluated for mental issues,” David Marion, Ph.D, explained to Essence. “It goes against what we have in our minds of how we are meant to be: Strong Black men should be able to handle any and everything in their lives, We’ve been socialized to believe we should be able to work through any problems that happen in our lives or marriage. If we cannot, that is a signal that we are weak.”
And this is where Mescudi triumphs: not only is he courageous in speaking up and seeking help, but he’s also encouraging and engaging in a critical discussion.
Shortly after publishing his open letter to fans, Black men began asking each other on Twitter: “#YouGoodMan?”
The hashtag was started as a “permission slip for vulnerability in a world that hides depression under toxic expressions of masculinity,” as explained by user @DaynaLNuckolls. The conversation was moderated by both Nuckolls and @TheCosby, who opened his direct messages for others who needed to talk.