Kofi Siriboe’s mini documentary ask “WTF Is Mental Health?”

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 articleI 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


3 Reasons the world should NOT be your therapist!

This was originally posted during Mental Health Awareness Month as a feature on www.chaneerobinson.com.

At this point the Kanye interview has been seen and  heard around the world. As a Kanye West fan and an admirer of Charlamagne the God’s interviewing style, the anticipation was real.  After his trip to TMZ, the anticipation was pretty much dead. I was not interested in hearing anything Kanye related for a few days. I did my best to scroll past any mention of it on social media, but finally I listened to the segments of the interview with Charlamagne on The Breakfast Club podcast.  Please keep reading my friends, this is not an analysis or my “woke” thoughts on Kanye, Charla, or the interview. This is about the very first thing I heard that made me pause and give a side eye like I was sitting next to Ye.

Kanye West, a musical genius to some, confidently told  Charalamage “I use the world as my therapist, anyone I talk to is my therapist…” .  He goes on to say how he pulls people aside to talk to and to get their perspective. He also mentioned how he will keep friends and family on the phone for 45 minutes at time to “talk through things”.

There are many reasons to NOT use the world, your friends or even your mama, as your therapist.  I know many African-Americans were taught that “therapy is for white people” or we were told “you will be OK” and we even tell our kids “what goes on in this house stays in this house!” , but when there has been mental or emotional trauma there has to be healing and our friends and family cannot heal us and here’s why:

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Not “Eliminate”… but “Manage”

Last week I shared my story about meeting my first therapist.  That post has become the most read post to date-THANK YOU!  Due to the response, I received via email and text, I wanted to share a blog post from mental health professionals.  I came across Dr. Amber Thornton on Instagram and I thought her blog post ‘Not “Eliminate”…but” Manage” would be a great follow-up to “Her Name was Jane”

Dr. Amber Thornton is a  licensed clinical psychologist, currently practicing in the Knoxville, Tennessee area.  Read more about Dr. Amber Thornton and her professional approach to mental health.

Not “Eliminate”…but “Manage”

Whenever I meet a new client who comes to me for mental health counseling/psychotherapy, one of the first things I say is this:

“I am not a magician, so I cannot make the difficult things in your life go away.  I cannot make your difficult emotions go away either.  But we can work together to help you manage them because they are a valuable part of life.”

Every day, both personally and professionally, I meet people who attempt to stuff and suppress their difficult emotions, with the hopes that this process will make them all go away.  Within our families, friendships, and even through the media, we are taught that we should be able to “control” our emotions.  We are also taught that if we avoid feeling our difficult emotions, that they will eventually go away.  Unfortunately, none of this is true.

Many days, I can’t help but wonder what our lives could be like if we embrace the idea that life will include both ups and downs, happiness and sadness, joy and dismay.  I truly believe that if we are able to accept our difficult emotions as being an integral part of life, then they may begin to feel and look much different.  I realize this can sound confusing or paradoxical even, but many times, the very thing we try to avoid is what we need to embrace the most.  It’s like the elephant in the room: it is big and takes up so much space while we try to ignore it, but once we acknowledge that it’s there, it’s not so big anymore.  It becomes quite manageable and we eventually learn ways to manage the discomfort.  Sometimes it may eventually fade away.  Believe it or not, our emotions operate in the very same way.

So what contributes to difficult emotion?  The list is endless, but a few of the most common contributors include:

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