Shows like the web series Giants have tackled the severity of talking about mental health in the Black community. Recently, actor Kofi Siriboe has joined the conversation with his short film "WTF Is Mental Health?" produced by his own company, ViaKofi.
Before all of the buzz and praise he began receiving for his breakout role as Ralph Angel Bordelon on OWN's Queen Sugar, Siriboe experienced the loss of someone that he called his big brother. He battled with what he calls a "mixture of anxiety, depression and general unease." All that he was feeling at the time became the driving force behind his documentary that focuses on the minds of the Black youth.
In an interview with Huffington Post, he said:
"Making 'WTF Is Mental Health?' has been a part of a healing process for me, one I'm still exploring. It's the companion piece to 'Jump,' a short film I made after a mentor and big brother figure died by suicide, just before I got the call that I'd been cast in 'Queen Sugar.' I started working on this beautiful, emotional show and felt how liberating it was to channel my fears into art. As I began to mold 'Jump,' I realized the true conversation I was craving centered on young black people who are figuring out this mental health thing, too."
The older generations in the Black community have long since shunned discussions of mental health. If a child cries out that they believe that they're possibly depressed, old school parents will neglect their plea for help. The negligence has led to many Black people feeling ashamed for their mental illness and with the lack of knowledge about therapy, they keep it a secret, which in serious cases leads to suicide. Siriboe told Teen Vogue:
"So much of what we experience is due to lack of resources, insurance, and socioeconomic status. Our young people should be equipped with this information so they can identify triggers and be proactive within their self-care regimens."
With the youth using their voices now more than ever with the platforms that social media has helped create, "WTF Is Mental Health?" is pushing for a breakthrough for Black people to no longer sit in silence but to listen, learn, accept, and heal. The four-minute documentary begins with a compilation of answers to the title's question through seven young Black individuals interviewed, and progresses on the ways the status of their mental health has affected their lives.
To keep the conversation going past the documentary and pushing discussing mental health to be normalized, Siriboe wants young black people to submit a video where they share their own definition of mental health along with their personal experiences and battles.
If you haven't checked it out already, watch Siriboe's short film below:
*Featured Image by Micaiah Carter via Kofi Siriboe's Instagram