In the Black community, talking about mental illness is taboo. And among Black men, expressing feelings of sadness, depression, and loneliness is still widely-viewed as a sign of weakness. But rappers like Joe Budden who have battled mental illness say that our attitudes about it must change before we lose more of our people to suicide and other tragedies.
While discussing Styles P's stepdaughter's death by suicide in 2015, Budden broke down. He then shared his own struggles with his co-hosts on the Complex show "Everyday Struggle."
"This is something that probably will not ever be addressed, so you need people like Styles to speak out...," Budden said. "I'm always going to react this way to that as somebody who has experience with that, as someone who has been suicidal, as someone who has battled depression."
The isolation of mental illness is real. But being a celebrity can make it significantly worse. Believe it or not, simple messages of concern offered from fans via social media can make a big difference. In the daily life of a high-profile individual, a tweet here and there might be the only time people are asked how they are doing.
"...I always get really excited on Twitter when a stranger just says, 'Hey, how you doing?' That one little line is so important. 'Hey, did you eat today?' Just the little things we do to take care of ourselves," Budden continued. "They say never get too hungry, lonely, angry, or tired. And I try to keep that just so I don't--you can easily revert to that."
Mental health issues are more widespread in the entertainment than you might think. Budden pointed to artists like Chris Brown, Kid Cudi, B.o.B., and Kanye West as examples of people who likely need help. They are extremely talented, but had issues long before the fame. Their notoriety only makes their problems worse. Budden says that it is time to take action.
"I would love to see more people speak out on mental health issues the way Styles is," he said. "I would like to see Hip-Hop address it more. We're so powerful as a culture. Like Hov said in that interview, we move things. Enough of us have died from mental health issues for us to look into it. Most of our favorite artists suffer from mental illness."