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Kid Cudi and How Mental Health Issues Are Exacerbated for Black Men

By Brian Richards | News Stories | October 20, 2016 |

By Brian Richards | News Stories | October 20, 2016 |

Earlier this month, rapper Kid Cudi admitted on his Facebook page that he was dealing with depression and having suicidal thoughts, and so decided to enter rehab. Courtney wrote about what a brave and important decision this was for Kid Cudi, and I completely agree.

Shortly after Kid Cudi’s announcement, a Twitter hashtag called #YouGoodMan was created by @DaynaLNuckolls and @TheCosby, in which Black men could share their struggles with mental health as well as share their struggles with opening up to others about it and seeking professional help.

I’ve said variations of this many times before, specifically on Facebook and specifically after Robin Williams died by suicide, and I’m definitely not saying anything that The Bloggess hasn’t said before and a lot more eloquently but: depression lies. It always has, it always will, and nothing that it tells you is ever worth listening to.

Depression is a liar that will tell you that no one loves you, no one appreciates you, and that your life isn’t even worth living. And when you’re a Black man, depression will tell you all of those things and so much more.

Depression will tell you that that it’s a problem only White people deal with, that it’s “just some White-people shit” and therapy is just as pointless and is not meant for you.

Depression will tell you that you’re being weak and that you should be stronger instead of being so sad all the damn time.

Depression will remind you of every joke you’ve heard or read about someone like Drake because he’s seen as someone who is so emotional instead of hardened like most other rappers apparently should be are, and the last thing you need or want to become is a Black man who is laughed at and ridiculed for opening up about his emotions.

Depression will make you find ways to prove that you’re strong instead of weak, ways that will make your friends smile with approval instead of look at you with judgment and suspicion, ways that go from indulging in ‘locker-room talk,’ to proving that you’re all about that talk by cat-calling the women you see, to going even further to prove to your friends how much of a man you are with actions towards these women rather than words. And when it comes to proving your masculinity to your fellow men, especially when women are involved, those actions are rarely ever pleasant.

Depression will not only tell you that you aren’t praying hard enough to get better and stay better, to make these thoughts and feelings go away, it will have family and friends believing that as well. And in some cases, it will tell them that you should be kept away from others and treated like a pariah until prayer finally works.

I don’t have depression or deal with issues regarding my mental health, but I know, love, and care deeply about people in my life who do. I frequently worry about them while hoping that the day never comes in which an unfamiliar voice calls me on my phone to tell me that one of these people in my life believed every single lie that depression told them and decided to do something about it.

I find myself feeling both angry and useless for not being able to do something more, for being too far away to hold their hand, to give them a hug, to be physically present in letting them know that they have someone in their corner.

And I also find myself feeling both angry and useless enough to have moments of doubt and wonder, where I imagine what it would be like if I never crossed paths with these people in the first place, if I gave less of a shit about them and focused more on others in my life with fewer or no mental and emotional issues, if I focused more on myself and my own well-being instead of preparing myself for the possibility of loss that will leave me feeling heartbroken and inconsolable. And then those moments pass, and I remember that no matter how angry or helpless I feel at times, it pales in comparison to how they feel, and I remember that these are people who I care about far too much to ever let those moments of doubt and wonder go from imagination to reality.

I will never truly understand how they feel or what they go through, but the very least I can do is to listen and to be there and to let them know that they’re not alone. And there are far too many Black men (those who are famous like Kid Cudi, and those who aren’t) who live with depression…who lie in their own beds every morning/afternoon/evening hating the fact that they’re still alive and who seriously consider whether or not they should end their own lives…who hate that they feel this way and don’t know what can be done to make it stop…they need this kind of support, and to be told that they have and need this kind of support (from family, friends, and from trained mental-health professionals who can step up and do what family and friends can’t), and to never feel as if they should apologize for not living up to the hyper-masculinity that so much of society tells them is as important and necessary as blood and oxygen. We need Black men to know that they can answer honestly when they approach each other about their mental health and well-being and ask:

“You good?”