Most people know Kofi Siriboe from the OWN television drama series, Queen Sugar, where he plays Ralph Angel Bordelon, a Louisiana native struggling to get it right as son, a brother and father. In real life, Kofi Siriboe is using his using his own struggles to create a platform for a much needed discussions around mental health in the Black community.
“WTF Is Mental Health?” is a newly released short form documentary directed by Kofi Siriboe. Siriboe shared some thoughts on mental health and the Black community in a recent Huffington Post article “I feel like with mental health, people always react negatively. We kinds have a lot of stigma in our community and in society in general..”, he goes on to say “Everybody doesn’t have that language and doesn’t understand that there is a community or world out there of people who are dealing with similar things, so I really want to explore what it is and what it means to us”.
The short documentary, will likely appeal to many of us in the Black community and young people in general. When people that look like you and use similar language as you open up about mental health, in a way it gives you permission to do the same, especially if you were never told it is OK to talk about it. The stigma of addressing mental health and mental illness is one things that cripples our community. Siriboe says “If we don’t admit what’s going on to ourselves, we’re gonna keep hurting in silence, which is killing us twice as much as our Caucasian counterparts. No one is gonna talk about it because it’s taboo,” he said. “That’s what I wanna end.” “WTF Is Mental Health?” is a companion piece to short film Siriboe made last year, JUMP, after losing a mentor and big brother figure to suicide.
Watch the short documentary below as young people share their experiences about dealing with their own mental health. It is sure to inspire young and older generations to think about what mental health means to them.
Photo via ABC News