The Black community and mental health
Danielle Campbell – Copy Editor
The discussion of mental health in the black community is of great importance these days, but a large component of the conversation missing is resources for black men and mental health.
On Wednesday, Sept. 29, University Access Programs and Counseling Programming and Outreach hosted WTF – Why Those Feelings?: Black Men and Mental Health. The event was created based on the music video “Lonely” by rapper DaBaby featuring Lil Wayne, which spoke on the mental health of the rapper as a black man in America. The conversation also centered around DaBaby’s media controversies including recently hitting a female fan and homophobic and disrespectful remarks made during his Rolling Loud set this summer.
“It’s important to recognize, as you were pointing out, we have individuals in our lives who experience mental health issues of some sort. To lump that in, is a problem. People have mental health concerns, and they’re not jerks. People have mental health concerns and they’re not running around insulting anyone,” said Dr. Randolph Brooks, counselor [and the only counselor of color] in the University Counseling Office.
He was talking about DaBaby and how he created this vivid video on mental health, without first acknowledging the wrong he did over the summer. This act has led many to believe he was using the topic of mental health as an excuse for his behavior; ultimately equating these negative behaviors with those who have mental health struggles.
Cancel culture hit DaBaby after his comments on stage, sparking the conversation of forgiveness and letting people make human mistakes. Psychology major and president of Caribbean Students Association Rosenine Saint-Val, a senior, said.“ “He did kind of like, gloss over the fact that, you know, not taking accountability for like disrespecting the LGBT community. I feel like he could have went about it a different way. You know what I’m saying. Like, also address that in the video.”
DaBaby and his struggles led to conversations on black mental health in general. Computer science major Jordan Patrick, a freshman, said, “The one [therapist] I had for a few years, it’s like, we can only really connect on like general topics, like ‘Oh how’s school going’ da da da da da. But when we got to specifics it’s like, it’s just a one-sided conversation. So, it’s like what am I, what am I really gaining from this?.” Speaking of his experience with therapy and the issue of effectiveness and the need for culturally competent therapists.
Kyle Augustine, graduate intern for University Access Programs and creator of the event, talked about his time as an undergraduate at the university and not having access to a counselor that looked like him. “When I was a freshman and sophomore year, within counseling services, and we didn’t find no one who looked like us. And we complained, a lot. And hence we got Dr. Brooks now. So that’s why it’s very important, cause me and other multicultural presidents were like how do you expect us to want to feel welcome and successful at Southern and there’s nobody in that council office that looks nothing like us.”
Besides the issue of culturally competent therapists, there was the issue of generational differences in approaches to mental health. Business administration major with a concentration in finance and president of Brotherhood for Scholarship & Excellence and Iota Theta Fraternity Inc. Marquise Blagmon, a junior, said “I personally think it’s a older generational thing that they don’t believe in mental health issues. At all. And they don’t realize it’s such a rising issue and now they’re trying to combat it and be more supportive but nah you shut me out five, six years to when I first brought the problem to you so don’t try to come at me now type of thing.”
The discussion was more about peeling back layers of mental health struggles in the black community that do not get talked about enough, but the message was clear. It is okay to have these emotions, but not okay to spill those hurts onto others.
“When we talk about mental health and mental illness and diagnosis and all that, most of that stuff was not written for us,” said Dr. Brooks. “Going to therapy does not mean you’re weak. Going to therapy means you’re strong enough to recognize something is going on that I am not going to hide.”