By Mwabi Kaira
Despite reports of the rising number of mental health case issues and of people committing suicide- the CDC just released a report yesterday stating that suicide rates have increased by 25% – 30% across the United States and just this week both handbag designer Kate Spade and Emmy-award-winning TV host and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain killed themselves- discussing mental is a taboo topic, especially in the black community. Queen Sugar’s Kofi Siriboe, or SiriBae as he is affectionately called, is seeking to change that.
Photo courtesy of ViaKofi
Before Kofi became a household name, he suffered a huge loss when a man who served as a big brother figure to him died by suicide. He found himself with a lot of questions he couldn’t find answers to like most people in that situation would. He turned to art to work through his feelings, but as he created, he noticed there was a huge gap in addressing mental health in the black community.
Siriboe released a short film about mental health with the grabbing title ‘WTF Is Mental Health?’ to help further the dialog in black communities about taking care of ourselves. Seven young black people come together to have candid conversations about mental well-being in the short film. In a conversation with Teen Vogue, Kofi explains how his own misconception was a catalyst for the focus on mental health by saying,
Kofi has ultimately created a film that’s so candid and leaves viewers with a sense of peace and understanding. It not only opens up the conversation but leaves it a place where viewers know that it’s perfectly okay to discuss our feelings and seek assistance when it comes to mental health. Viewers have been given the language of mental health and feel included. All we’ve known is stigma and what society has molded our conversation to be. It’s admirable that Kofi has taken this on and in doing so has been transparent as well. He says,
Kofi wants young people to know that mental health is the collective harmony of our minds, spirit and physical bodies. Young people should especially care about their minds because of the information age we live in. We take a lot of information in and not knowing how to filter it can have detrimental results on our psyche. A strong understanding of your mental enables you the power to actually choose and design your reality rather than living in someone else’s.
How’s your mental health?