Chicago — Chance the Rapper opened up about the stigma surrounding mental health among Black men during a Facebook Watch episode of “Peace of Mind with Taraji.”
In a discussion with actor Taraji P. Henson and her co-host Tracie Jade, the activist and recording artist said he thinks Black men are “naturally guarded.”
"Your weakness is preyed upon, so I think it's a defense mechanism,” he said.
The Chicago-based rapper also admitted to having a hard time opening up to therapists, noting “I don’t necessarily trust going to a stranger and telling them everything about my life.”
The 28-year-old has been an advocate for mental health over the years, pledging $1 million to Chicago Public Schools’ mental health services. His awareness journey began after a friend experienced a crisis. That's when he and his friends’ family realized that the resources he needed weren’t available.
Their experience isn’t uncommon. In 2019, there were 24.7% of adults unable to get the mental health treatment they needed, according to NBC News. Black men face the added barrier of needing culturally relevant treatment.
Instead of treatment, many Black men resort to bottling their emotions up, Chance said.
"It takes a lot to be cathartic; to cry; to, like, empty yourself,” he said.
"I saw my friend killed in front of me when I was 19,” he added. “I saw people I didn't know get killed too, and you become numb to it. You don't realize until later, it could have lasting effects on you.”
Chance suggested leading by example to encourage Black men to be more vulnerable.
"When you show your emotion, it allows other people to show emotion," he said.