G Herbo is a man on a mission. Months after the gold-selling rapper and mental health advocate delivered his sophomore album —which he titled PTSD— he announced that he had teamed up with the streaming platform Audiomack to introduce Swervin’ Through Stress. The initiative is “committed to connecting Black young adults with therapeutic resources that help inform and improve their mental health in pursuit of a better quality of life.” Studies have shown that a small portion of African Americans actually receive the mental health care they require, so it’s no surprise that G Herbo —who suffers from PTSD— isn’t alone in his crusade to address this problem. From offering support to discussing personal experiences with therapy to detailing struggles with emotional distress of any sort, including depression, these rap stars (as well as many others) have used their platforms to help change the stigmas attached to addressing mental health.
Showing that he’s not unlike many of us, Kid Cudi has chronicled his struggles with depression throughout his career. In need of additional help, the platinum artist took things a step further in 2016 when he checked himself into rehab. He wrote in a post, “I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve done something to myself. I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life. There’s a ragin violent storm inside of my heart at all times. Idk what peace feels like. Idk how to relax. My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it.”
Inspired by fans telling him that his music had saved their lives, rapper Logic, who has publicly spoken about his experience with derealization disorder, as well as his parents’ history with mental illness and drug addiction, crafted “1-800-273-8255.” The release of the Grammy-nominated song, which was named after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone number, resulted in a significant increase in calls to Lifeline-sponsored crisis centers and Google searches related to Lifeline’s phone number.
According to Jay-Z, “as scared as Black folks are of the cops, we’re even more scared of therapists.” A survivor of the hard-knock life, the billionaire rap star has in recent years advocated for the importance of therapeutic assistance for Black men, women and even children. “I think actually it should be in our schools,” said Hov — a beneficiary of therapy himself — in a 2018 sit-down with Van Jones. “Children have the most going on. Their minds aren’t fully developed.”
Chance the Rapper
One of Chi-town’s finest, Chance the Rapper lent a helping hand to the mental health cause in 2018 when he pledged more than $1 million in support of Chicago-based mental wellness providers and public schools. Through his My State of Mind initiative, the Coloring Book artist hopes to, “change the way that mental health resources are being accessed.”
All eyes have been on Kanye West’s mental stability as of late. As he juggles his presidential run, finishes his new album and designs his debut collection for Gap, the Grammy Award-winner with his erratic behavior and controversial claims has reminded fans and critics that he suffers from bipolar disorder. In 2018, the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy artist featured the phrase, “I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome” on the cover of his ye album. A year later, he described his experience, while offering an unique perspective on the disorder to David Letterman saying, “I can just tell you what I’m feeling at the time, and I feel a heightened connection with the universe when I’m ramping up. It is a health issue. This — it’s like a sprained brain, like having a sprained ankle. And if someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not going to push on him more. With us, once our brain gets to a point of spraining, people do everything to make it worse.”
Photo via Kanye West