SE Cupp: The podcast episode on mental health I hope everyone hears

It’s definitely all of those things. Each episode features an interview with guests such as Chef Kwame Onwuachi on learning to cook, Magic Johnson on mentorship, Dionne Warwick on her morning routine and more.

But to label the Renaissance simply as a “lifestyle and culture podcast” is to underestimate its substantive contribution to a much larger, incredibly important and often neglected conversation about mental health.

The December 2 episode of Rose features a very gritty and honest interview with Charlemagne Tha Good, the hugely popular radio presenter and television personality and judge of cultural and political influence.

It’s practically a public service announcement about the importance of transparency with mental health, and one that everyone should hear. In the episode, Charlemagne shared that he had been dealing with panic attacks and anxiety for years before he got help. “I started going to therapy in 2016 because I was losing it,” he says.

That someone within Charlemagne’s reach had taken on the mantle of a mental health advocate – a role he said he initially resisted – and championed the importance of therapy would do wonders to break the stigma of mental illness that for years overcame color, gender, class and generational barriers.

A growing number of public figures, from Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps to former first lady Michelle Obama, have opened up about their mental health. And last year, Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and Meghan Markle – all women of color in particular – have transformed our culture by sharing their important struggles with the world.
If the Covid-19 pandemic has given us anything good, it’s then – finally – to talk more openly about how we feel. The headlines covered the challenge of burnout, trauma faced by frontline workers, the effects of social isolation and increased incidents of anxiety and depression.
Amid this global upheaval, it has become accepted not to be well – and mental health is increasingly becoming a topic of discussion among friends and in schools and the workplace. Therapists saw a rush of new patients, as some colleges and employers rushed to provide resources.

It’s all good — but stigmas around mental health persist and resources aren’t always accessible or affordable, especially in communities of color.

It is still very rare to hear men, especially men of a certain age, discuss mental health honestly and without shame. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 6 million men are affected by depression in the United States each year, and suicide is a leading cause of death among men.
However, men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health, and less likely to self-report depression. (Research shows that engaging in traditional notions of masculinity, characterized by stoicism, aggressiveness, and control, for example, can be harmful to both physical and mental health.)
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Although rates of mental illness in African Americans are similar to those of the general population, they often receive poor quality care and lack access to culturally competent care, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Charlemagne, in his conversation with Rose, said that he realized with the help of Taraji B. Henson says advocating for mental health is what he wants in his life. “I want to help black people heal, especially black men,” he told Rose.

And over the past few years, Charlemagne has already touched upon core topics, including the impact of his father’s perverse view of masculinity, the trauma of systemic racism and the misconception that success in his career would ease his anxiety. Charlemagne’s conversation with Rose is a continuation of this work – and a byproduct of progress in our society.

Having fought my own mental health battles recently, I know first-hand how important these discoveries are.

In my small circle of influence, I’ve learned that being honest about my struggles with anxiety is more helpful than I can possibly tell. When I admitted this summer that I wasn’t feeling well and that I was getting help for it, I received hundreds of emails, texts, and messages from friends, colleagues, and strangers who all said they were dealing with similar issues. The relief was mutual – we all knew we weren’t alone.

Then something magical happened. We started sharing our experiences, battles, tips and tricks. The world that opened up to me was changing my life. Now, I can’t believe I was moved by my daily thought, my paralyzing anxiety was normal, or that I had to do it all silently on my own.

As a result, I became very frank and unabashed. She began starting sentences on Twitter with “My therapist says” before sharing her excellent advice on everything from reducing social media triggers to parenting with less guilt.

Normalizing conversations about mental health is very important, especially when there are so many public figures who continue to mock and ignore people with mental health.

Charlemagne has an important message that I hope everyone gets a chance to hear, and I’m so grateful that someone like Galen Rose is giving him and others the platform to share.


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