The stigma surrounding mental health in the Black community is one that took us a very long time to shake from a cultural perspective. For too long, many Black men and women alike suffered in silence out of fear of being judged, ostracized, viewed as a threat to society or called the worst word that you can use to describe anyone struggling with their mental health: “crazy.”
That’s why the recent surge in normalizing something as simple as seeking therapy is one huge societal step forward for the culture in general. However, where the ladies of our community have always been more in-tune with their emotions, and also have female-centered outlets like The View to reflect their ideals back at them, Black men often don’t have those similar safe spaces to discuss societal pressures like masculinity, financial stability and/or a need to be the bread-winner of a household. You tend to see a difference in character based on those who embrace therapy compared to the many men who still avoid it.
We saw both sides to the spectrum of Black men dealing with mental health in the public recently with separate conversations surrounding A-list actor Idris Elba and controversial music mogul Kanye “Ye” West.
Starting with Elba, the recent revelation that he’s been in therapy for the past year to combat a self-diagnosed issue of being a “workaholic” was eye-opening from many angles. From courageously speaking out in the first place to understanding that certain behaviors normally rewarded in his field were doing more damage than good in his personal life, shows just how life-altering therapy can be when it’s a choice made to better yourself above all. It was a bit disheartening to see the ladies of The View (see above) brushing his trauma aside by sexualizing the situation, but co-host Ana Navarro was able to make a great point when they finally were able to get back on track by stating, “Men get therapy and address mental health issues a lot less than women, and Black men and Latino men — men of color — do so even less.”
While fellow co-host Whoopi Goldberg didn’t join in on the Idris love fest, what she did choose to say felt like a missed mark on what therapy ultimately meant for the Luther star. “I’d be mad as hell at him if I was his wife,” Goldberg boldly stated, further adding, “basically, you’re saying you have to go to therapy in order to figure out how to come home; that’s an issue between you and I, and you put it out there.” Two things, Whoop: yes — maybe he does need therapy to find his way back home! What a person decides to get therapy for is completely up to them and whatever they need to unpack in order to live a mentally peaceful life. The second thing is that it’s his therapy session to work through; your place as his wife comes secondary, and will actually only get better as he does the honest work required within those sessions.
Ye on the other hand is an example of a Black man who’s pushing away from the idea of therapy during a time when he may very well need it the most. While the viral leaked footage of him berating Cardi B, his former G.O.O.D. Music roster and fellow rap icon Nas is years old, we’ve seen this man literally lose everything in the five years since it was recorded due to a public battle with bipolar disorder that he refuses to even take medication for. Whether it’s public displays of hyper-sexuality or the multitude of lawsuits coming by way of everyone from ex-DONDA Academy employees to construction workers on his Malibu home, it’s clear to see that Kanye could benefit from therapy. Sadly, it’s also very clear that he’s in no rush to seek it.
Overall, we use both Idris and Kanye as a way to not compare who’s doing better in their mental health journeys, but more as a means to show that our brothers come with various shades of complexity. We commend Idris for seeing it in himself and seeking out help, and we pray that Kanye one day soon can benefit from the same self-reflection.
Take a look below to see what the internet is saying on the subject of these Black men when it comes to mental health and therapy, and let us know your thoughts as well:
- Social Media Reacts To Firing Of Therapist On TikTok Who Urged Black Men To Seek Therapy
- Video Shows Shock Therapy on Patient
- Mariah Carey Puts Her Dogs In Therapy
Kanye West, Idris Elba And Black Men Openly Embracing Therapy was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
1. Watching #theview and I think Whoopi missed the point that Idris Elba was making; the issue isn’t home. The issue is he career that takes him away from home and creates an imbalance that most stars don’t know how to handle. It’s not as simple as him needing therapy to come home
2. Sometimes people just don’t know when to stop and smell the roses. It would be nice if he had a little therapy to find out why he’s so driven.
3. At this point Kanye actually needs therapy
4. Watching Kanye’s mental health deteriorate over the past decade has been so fucking sad. And no one is getting him help.
5. Women have no problem promoting mental healthcare for themselves, but as Idris Elba talks about his mental health #TheView cast ignores him saying, he’s too good looking and his voice is too sexy to listen to him. Wtf.
6. My brothers. My black brothers. My street niggas. My real Niggas. The men that bottle everything up and smile Go see therapy man the losses we take ain’t normal. 💯💔
7. I am proud of myself for finally starting therapy last week. I have been through a lot & am glad I am finally prioritizing & making space for healing. Special thanks to beloved brothers Todd Waldo and Vincent Ellis White for helping me through the process. Black Men heal😇🙏🏾🌍🕊️
8. This episode of the Chi where the black men came together for a mini therapy session is making my heart smile
9. The Chandler Jones stuff is scary and sad. And I empathize with him because so many Black men have been conditioned to believe that getting help is a sign of weakness. But to all the brothas out there, see someone if you need to. There is no shame in that. Therapy has changed me.
10. If you’re going through a tough time, it takes courage to seek help—whether it’s from a therapist, counselor, or a trusted friend. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.