The Misconceptions About Mental Illness We Need to Unlearn

This is a really good article from  The author knows what he is talking about and he is honest.  He goes on to list 5 misconceptions about mental illness that interfere with our ability to really see the mentally ill person.  I especially like that he points out the difference between mental illness and a sinus infection!

Please read this article to the end.  I think he makes valid points and speaks from personal experiences.  He does not hold out “false” hopes, but rather states that to do nothing is to get nowhere.  I hope by reading this article you will better understand what the mentally ill person is going through and you will be better able to support and help them.

The Misconceptions About Mental Illness We Need to Unlearn

Mental illness isn’t like a sinus infection. You can’t just wait it out or take a pill to make everything go away. Our brains are complex and enigmatic, and mental illness is no different. This leads to a lot of misconceptions that make recovery much harder. Here are a few things you should know, whether you’re a sufferer or not.

Just get over it!

Just get over it!

Before we talk about misconceptions, it helps to identify just what “mental illness” means. Everyone has stress and difficult emotions from time to time and this is normal. Mental illness, on the other hand, is any condition that makes it difficult to function in daily life. It can affect your relationships, your job, or prevent you from reaching any otherwise attainable goal.

If that sounds like a pretty wide definition, it’s because the human mind is complex. Mental illness can range from anxiety and mood disorders that have a severe and tangible effect on your emotions and motivation, to psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that affect your perceptions or senses with things like delusions or hallucinations. Living with any of these can be debilitating. We rely on our senses, emotions, and perceptions to get us through the day. When any of those fail, it can make life difficult.

I’ve struggled with mental illnesses for decades. Over the years, I’ve had diagnoses ranging from depression to Asperger’s and I’ve encountered a ton of misconceptions. Some are basic things that the general population just hasn’t learned about, while others are deep-seated beliefs that even I have had to un-learn. Here are some of the ones that still seem to stick around…(read the rest of the article here)

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America’s Largest Mental Hospital Is a Jail

In yet another article from the Atlantic, here is a rather lengthy piece that deals with Cook County Jail.  It is the largest jail in the United States and serves a wide swath of the population.  This article seeks to explain how the mentally ill person could end up a prisoner in a jail.

The author gives a really good look at changes being implemented at this jail; a precheck to determine whether the person has any mental illness issues.  This is a big deal, since no other major jail or prison does this.  By identifying the mentally ill, the staff are better equipped to find solutions for these individuals before they go to court and before they get sentenced by a judge.  It doesn’t always work, but it is a start.

I know this article is really long, but please read the whole thing.  Maybe you can come up with some ideas for dealing with this population besides putting them in jail.  I hope someone does, and soon.  Our jails and prisons are crowded to the max and just maybe some of the inmates should be treated somewhere else.


America’s Largest Mental Hospital Is a Jail

At Cook County, where a third of those incarcerated suffer from psychological disorders, officials are looking for ways to treat inmates less like prisoners and more like patients.

It was 9 o’clock in the morning at Cook County Jail, but in the subterranean holding cells where dozens await their turn before a judge, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Pre-bail processing here takes place entirely underground. A labyrinth of tunnels connects the jail’s buildings to one another and to the Cook County Criminal Court. Signs and directions are intentionally left off the smooth concrete corridors to hinder escape attempts. Even those who run the jail get lost down here from time to time, they told me.

No natural light reaches the tunnels. Human voices echoed off the featureless walls, creating an omnipresent din. On this Monday, when those arrested over the weekend in Chicago and its suburbs filled the fenced cages, that din became a roar. Many inmates were standing, sitting, or milling around. But some—perhaps two or three per holding pen—were lying on the floor, asleep.

If you can sleep through this, you’re fighting far greater demons than the commotion outside. And the doctors here want to know what they are.

At Cook County Jail, an estimated one in three inmates has some form of mental illness. At least 400,000 inmates currently behind bars in the United States suffer from some type of mental illness—a population larger than the cities of Cleveland, New Orleans, or St. Louis—according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI estimates that between 25 and 40 percent of all mentally ill Americans will be jailed or incarcerated at some point in their lives.“This is typically what I see everyday,” said Elli Petacque-Montgomery, a psychologist and the deputy director of mental health policy for the sheriff’s department. She showed me a medical intake form filled with blue pen scribbles. Small boxes listed possible illnesses: bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, and so on. The forms are designed to help jail officials identify which inmates have mental illnesses as early as possible. Details from four new inmates could fit on a single sheet. She showed me a completed one. “Of those four,” she said, pointing to the descriptors, “I have three mentally ill people.”

On a nearby counter, a nurse took down notes for a Hispanic inmate with an injured eye. A white inmate with dreadlocks wearing a Chicago Bears jersey—they had defeated the San Francisco 49ers the night before—stood next to them, translating his fellow inmate’s Spanish for the nurse.

What sort of crimes had these people been arrested for? One kid on the list had a tendency toward aggression, but officials emphasized that the overwhelming majority were “crimes of survival” such as retail theft (to find food or supplies) or breaking and entering (to find a place to sleep). For those with mental illness, charges of drug possession can often indicate attempts at self-medication. “Even the drugs of choice will connect to what the mental illness is,” Petacque-Montgomery told me. People with severe depression might use cocaine “to lift their mood.” Those who hear voices and have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder often turn to heroin to regulate their sleep. Marijuana use “is just constant for kids with ADD and depression,” she notes. “I’ll ask, ‘Can you eat or sleep without this?’ and they’ll say no.’”  (read the rest of the article here)
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Although this is not an article but rather a blog post, I still feel it is appropriate to post here for you to read.  The writer obviously lives in or near San Francisco, so the numbers he gives have no value to most of us.  However, his point does.  Who do you call when confronted by a person having a mental health crisis on the street?  What should you do?

I applaud his thought that he SHOULD do something to help the person affected. Most of us just try to ignore them and walk past or around them quickly.  I applaud his desire to be of service to a distressed individual on the street.  Not many people feel that way anymore.

I agree with him that you should find out who to call for various types of crises in your area.  Does 911 cover everything in your city?  Most large cities do have a Mobile Crisis
Team to deal with psychiatric emergencies; does yours?

Please read this blog post to its conclusion.  Maybe you will begin to feel the way that he does and learn what to do in your area.  Maybe you will just expect 911 to work.  Either way, we are all connected and we should help a fellow human who is in crisis of any type.


18FEB2016Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Justin Keller’s absurd, entitled, whiny, anti-homeless rant got me thinking about this.

Not long ago I was walking near Church and Market and suddenly there was a bunch of hubbub behind me. You know what I’m talking about, it’s not loud and raucous but there’s some kind of disturbance that sets off your Spidey-Sense and makes you turn around.

Just then, a butt naked African-American woman in her 40s, ran by screeching and then went into one of the local businesses. It was obvious from the scene and the way things went down that she wasn’t one of the nudists who hang out in the Castro (or at least used to before Scott Wiener banned it). She was absolutely having a mental health crisis and needed help.

But the question was: who was I supposed to call?

I knew for sure that I didn’t want to call the police. There’s the great quote by Abraham Maslow that says “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” And unfortunately that’s often how it is with the American police. They are trained in ending crisis situations forcefully, but there isn’t enough training in how to deescalate them so that no one gets hurt or killed. While that is in the process of changing as we speak, I’d still rather involve people who already have the training.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the answer then, and as some of the business owners had begun making phone calls, I continued on to my way hoping they did know who to call. But I decided then to find out who I should call next time something like that arises. Below are the answers: (the rest of the article is here)

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The Dangers Of High-Functioning Depression and Anxiety

This article, written by Nicole Kordana at St. Michael’s College and published in the Odyssey online, is worth your time to read.  She gives you a glimpse of the struggle she deals with and toward the end of the article she gives some ways to be proactive about your health and some important tips for when you are feeling low.

Please read the entire article and see if you understand the struggle she talks about, maybe better than you want to. I think there are quite a few people who would meet this diagnosis if they ever sought to get help.

The Dangers Of High-Functioning Depression and Anxiety

It’s been eight years since I was diagnosed with depression, and five since I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety. For many people when I tell them, it comes as quite a shock. “Wow, you don’t seem depressed” or “I’ve never seen you panic about anything” is a rather common response. Reflecting on this, I can understand why it would come as a surprise. I graduated high school with above a 4.0 GPA because I loaded my schedule with Advanced Placement courses so I could get ahead in college. I participated in sports, I volunteered, I had a job, and generally seemed to be doing pretty well. I was accepted into the colleges I applied to and started school in the fall, where I also excelled and became involved in many activities around me. I was functioning as a “normal” young adult, so how depressed or anxious could I be right?

My depression and anxiety seemed like a war going on inside my head, reeking havoc on my physical health and general outlook on life. You never would have known by looking at my grades, my endurance on the soccer field, my performance at work, or my interactions with peers. It was easy to go about my daily life and excel in public, my mind was too busy to be sad or nervous, but when I returned home I entered a different world. I was inconceivably sad and overwhelmed reflecting on the day I had. I knew I had a list of things I needed to complete before I could fall asleep in good conscience, but I lacked all motivation to complete a single task. On the other hand, not completing anything made me irrationally fearful that I would not succeed. I was sitting in the shell of my body unable to do anything. Do your homework. I can’t. If you don’t you’ll be a failure, you’ll never be accepted into a good college. I’m too tired to do anything tonight. If you don’t do anything tonight, your grades will plummet; your teacher will be disappointed with you. I’d go back and forth with myself until I forced myself to agonizingly and poorly complete something. The physical toll on my body was no less. My back hurt immensely, I experienced migraines frequently, my panic attacks made me feel like my heart was going to be ejected from my chest, and my outbursts of anger toward my family were uncontrollable. And despite my insisting “nothing was wrong” my mother took me to see a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist informed me that I experienced high-functioning depression and anxiety, which is not uncommon, especially in teens and young adults. High-functioning illnesses are scary in the fact…(read the rest of the article here)

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Families failed by a broken mental health care system often have no one to call but police.

Here is an article from the Boston Globe that is so sad.  Even though I know that this is the reality for families with mentally ill members, it still breaks my heart that we have devolved to this.  We need to face the fact that we have a broken Mental Health Care system.

I am not against the police in any way.  They have a really tough job and the fact that we have dumped the mentally ill on them just makes it more dangerous for them.  We really need to come up with a better solution.

Please read the entire article before making up your mind on this issue.  This is a sad statement about the times we are living in for sure.

Families failed by a broken mental health care system often have no one to call but police.

Shadows stretched across the living room, the gray October afternoon giving way to night, as David Hill raised the gun to his head.

Across the room his father sat watching, rigid with dread.

It was just the two of them in the house in Eastham, on Cape Cod: the 23-year-old who said he wanted to die and the father trying to keep him alive. For weeks now, Gerry Hill had been asking for help for his son wherever he could — but real help had never arrived. Police and EMTs. Hospital. Court. Detox facility. It seemed to Gerry that each had done the bare minimum, or less. No one made sure that Dave was cared for. No one took responsibility for what might come next.

The young man pressed the Beretta pistol to his temple. Then he dropped his arm.

“I can’t do it,” he said quietly.

A narrow ray of hope cut through Gerry’s terror. Maybe he could take the gun away and it would end here. Maybe one more chance was all they needed.

Dave stood up and crossed the living room. He bent over his father’s chair and kissed him on the forehead.

“I love you, dad,” he said.

“I love you, too,” said Gerry. “Please don’t do this.”

He watched his son walk out the front door, carrying a gun.

Outside, twilit pines were sighing in the wind. A half mile down the road, marsh gave way to beach. But Dave turned his car the other way, driving up the winding road that led to the town center.

Gerry didn’t know it, but the young man had a plan. He would die another way; he could make it happen. He was headed for the police station.

A few miles away in the neighboring town of Orleans, Tony Manfredi worked the 4 to midnight shift. He had been on the police force for four years, and he had encountered David Hill before. Three months earlier, on another night when Dave was suicidal, Officer Manfredi had assisted Eastham police, at one point pursuing in his cruiser when Dave fled in his car. Like the other officers involved — like most police statewide — he had no in-depth training in handling mental health crises.

Now Dave Hill was set on suicide again. Tony Manfredi would again be called to Eastham. By midnight, their paths would cross for the last time, in the dark woods at the marsh’s edge…(read the rest of the article here)

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21 Black People Give Their Best Advice For Taking Care Of Your Mental Health

Here is an article that addresses an often ignored aspect of mental illness.  In this article from, the thoughts from 21 black people are printed for us to see and try to understand.  This is not an article about a small portion of the mentally ill, for mental illness knows no boundaries of race, creed, gender, or age.

In this the twenty-first century, it seems so sad that we still have these biased and incorrect ideas about mental illness in general, but mental illness in people of color even more.

Where does this schism come from?  Is it the fault of the black communities?  I don’t think so.  Is it the fault of the white communities?  Maybe.  But let’s not assign blame, let’s just fix the problem.

Please read all of the thoughts in this article.  Maybe we as a society can begin to address some of the inequities of how we care for and think about mental illness as a whole.

21 Black People Give Their Best Advice For Taking Care Of Your Mental Health

By Hannah Giorgis,

Mental illness can affect anyone, but for people of color, the experience of the illness itself is often compounded (or even caused) by racism, microaggressions, and community-specific stigma. Racism and stereotypes about mythic black strength creep into every facet of life — including the health care industry (one study even found that doctors give black children less pain medication than their white counterparts). Mental illness, which can also manifest as physical pain, is often misdiagnosed in black patients or subject to subtly discriminatory treatment from providers.

As part of Mental Health Week, BuzzFeed asked black people of varying ages and backgrounds to speak to their unique concerns, experiences, and advice regarding mental illness and finding a therapist.

When I was younger I was made to believe that mental health wasn’t an issue for black people because it was never talked about. I suffered for so long because of that. —MN, 22

One of the major things holding me back from pursuing more mental health care and (more so) medicinal intervention is how people will interpret my seeking a prescription. Black people are already considered “delinquents,” prone to undesirable characteristics like addiction…I don’t want to have to deal with that situation on top of my anxiety, on top of my BD, on top of my social class. I’m mentally exhausted before I even pick up the phone. —Rai, 25

As a black woman, I feel like my depression isn’t taken as seriously since black women are usually perceived as being “strong” and “confident.” Perhaps if I was a white woman who was “weak,” “fragile,” and “innocent,” then others would be more supportive when I open up about my struggles. —T.A., 23

As a Christian I was scared to seek therapy. My mother and others had drilled into my head that I just wasn’t praying right or whatever. It seemed like a failure of my religion to seek help, but one day I called my pastor and couldn’t stop crying, and she said it would be a good idea if I talked to someone. That gave me the assurance I needed. —Anon, 29

(read the rest of this article here)

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China and India Burdened by Untreated Mental Disorders

Here is an article from the NY Times about mental health issues around the world, with special focus on India and China.  The basis of this article is from a study done in  The Lancet and represents an effort to focus attention on global mental health and the crisis of untreated mental disorders.

It seems that we are not the only country failing in our attempt to care for the mentally ill.  This study shows that most civilized nations are falling back farther and farther in the care of the mentally ill person.

Please read this entire article and make up your own mind about this issue.  I think it is deplorable that in the world today we do so little to help those afflicted with mental illness.

China and India Burdened by Untreated Mental Disorders

The growing burden of untreated mental disorders in the world’s two most populous countries, India and China, cannot be adequately addressed without changes to their health care systems and by training folk healers to become collaborators, a new report has found.

The analysis, published as a part of a series in the journals The Lancet and The Lancet Psychiatry, draws on years of medical surveys in those countries. It represents the latest effort by an international coalition of researchers to put mental health care at the center of the global health agenda; last month, the World Bank and the World Health Organizationconvened hundreds of public officials, doctors and other specialists in a landmark meeting in Washington to focus attention on global mental health.

The new research, presented in three papers, found that less than 10 percent of people in India and China with a mental disorder received effective treatment, and that the resulting burden of disability from those two countries was higher than in all Western countries combined.

“India and China together represent more than a third of the world’s population, and both countries are at a remarkable stage of epidemiologic and demographic transition,” said a co-author of one of the papers, Dr. Vikram Patel, a professor of international mental health and co-founder of a community-based mental health center, Sangath, in Goa State in India, in a recorded interview accompanying the articles.

“I think politicians and service planners will find this research valuable,” said Dr. Alex Cohen, the course director of the global mental health program at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “But if you don’t have the resources to treat more than 2 percent of the people who need it,” then the overall burden can seem overwhelming.  (read the rest of the article here)

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An American Gulag: Descending into Madness at Supermax

Please take the time to read this article in the Atlantic.  It is the first of a three part story about the mentally ill and madness  in our prisons and the abuse or the lack of care they receive in these places.

Granted, people rarely are in prison for being choirboys.  These people are no exceptions.  However, as a nation, as a society, do we want to become known for our lack of compassion and our lack of fundamental care for those we pen up for life?

I know that being an officer at a prison is a hard job and that over time people become immune to the abuse of power displayed daily in their jobs.  Does that make it right?

I have often posted articles here about how we have made the police/prison officials the mental health system in the United States.  That is truly unfortunate and ridiculously uninformed.  The cost of treatment vs. the cost of incarceration  should be looked at; I believe that we could actually save money if we chose to medicate these prisoners.  For without proper care, they become more and more dangerous to themselves and to all others in that facility.

Please read this article and make up your own mind about this issue.  I believe that mental illness does not excuse criminal behavior and those who break the law deserve to serve the time; however, while serving that time, we are honor bound to medicate or treat mental illness.

An American Gulag: Descending into Madness at Supermax

When Jack Powers arrived at maximum-security federal prison in Atlanta in 1990 after a bank robbery conviction, he had never displayed symptoms of or been treated for mental illness. Still in custody a few years later, he witnessed three inmates, believed to be members of the Aryan Brotherhood gang, kill another inmate. Powers tried to help the victim get medical attention, and was quickly transferred to a segregated unit for his safety, but it didn’t stop the gang’s members from quickly threatening him.

Not then. And certainly not after Powers testified (not once but twice) for the federal government against the assailants. The threats against him continued and Powers was soon transferred to a federal prison in Pennsylvania, where he was threatened even after he was put into protective custody. By this time, Powers had developed insomnia and anxiety attacks and was diagnosed by a prison psychologist as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

powers.jpgAbove: Jack Powers

Instead of giving Powers medicine, or proper mental health therapy, officials transferred him yet again, this time to another federal prison in New Jersey. There, Powers was informed by officials that he would be removed from a witness protection program and transferred back into the prison’s general population. Fearing for his life, Powers escaped. When he was recaptured two days later he was sent to ADX-Florence, part of a sprawling prison complex near Florence, Colorado often referred to as “ADX” or Supermax,” America’s most famous and secure federal prison.

From there, things got worse. The Supermax complex, made up of different secure prison units and facilities, is laden with members of the Brotherhood and Powers was no safer than he had been anywhere else. Over and over again he was threatened at the Colorado prison. Over and over again he injured or mutilated himself in response. Over and over again he was transferred to federal government’s special mental health prison facility in Missouri, diagnosed with PTSD, and given medication. Over and over again that medication was taken away when he came back to Supermax…(read the rest of the article here)

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A Morning at Mental Health Court

This article from the US News is about Mental Health Court, which is a program that helps to keep the mentally ill from being sent to jail or prison due to their behaviors.

When I worked in Austin, TX we had mental health court every other week and many of our patients went before the mental health judge for their issues with the law as well as their needs for treatment.

I believe we have to find a more humane way to help the mentally ill meet their needs and try to keep them connected in the community where they live.  They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect just the same as everyone else.

Please read the entire article and see if you agree that more Mental Health Courts might be part of the answer to this growing and troublesome issue.

A Morning at Mental Health Court

By Lisa Esposito | Staff Writer Sept. 30, 2016, at 9:42 a.m.

Connecting defendants to proper treatment can keep them in the community and out of jail.

As all rise for Judge Robert Heffron Jr. for the mental health court of Prince George’s County, there’s little resemblance to a hospital unit or outpatient clinic with white-coated doctors. The judge in his black robe takes the bench, seated directly in front of the Great Seal of Maryland and the state and U.S. flags. The Tuesday morning docket lists defendants and case numbers, not patients and diagnoses. The few people who show up in scrubs, in a blazing shade of orange, are defendants transported from jail. Most of the defendants arrive in street clothes.

However, as the session moves forward, exchanges among court personnel sound a lot like discussions between health care providers and patients. Are defendants complying with treatments and taking medications as ordered, and if not, why? Issues doctors hear about all the time – like prescription drug side effects that make people feel drowsy, lethargic and unlike themselves – also arise in this courtroom.

Still, it’s clear this isn’t a mental health clinic, but a court of law. One case involves a woman who’s having compliance issues with her psychiatric drugs, which she says cause numerous side effects. The problem, however, is that she randomly assaults people on the street when she’s off her medication.

Medication does nothing for her, she insists, noting that she functions well, including showing up in court, without it. At one point she challenges the judge: “Are you a psychiatrist? Do you understand what I’m saying?”

At another point, Heffron says, “You can choose not to take your medication. And I can choose not to allow you into the community.” Eventually, Jhana Bogan, a private attorney paneled through the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, asks the judge for a moment to quietly confer with her client.

After their conversation, Bogan summarizes for the court: She’s explained to the defendant that she has the right not to take her medication. She has encouraged the client – and the client has agreed – to speak to her doctor about the medication and side effects at an upcoming appointment. “That sounds like a good plan,” the judge says. “We’ll take it from there.”

As with health care, a multidisciplinary team approach is used in court. The psychologist who works with the court conducts competency evaluations, submits opinions and occasionally testifies, explains Marilyn Bailey, coordinator for mental health and drug courts in the county’s fifth district. A clinical social worker serves as a consultant on clinical issues.

Mental health courts are one type of problem-solving court, along with drug court, DUI court and veterans court. About 350 mental health courts exist in the U.S., according to Linda Rosenberg, president of the National Council for Behavioral Health, speaking to journalists at a National Press Foundation conference on mental health in September.

Mental health courts put the power of courts to good use, says Rosenberg, who in her previous role as senior deputy commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health, set up one of the early such courts in New York City. She says they can prevent people with mental health issues who commit small transgressions – like trespassing and showing up on strangers’ sofas or in their yards – from being jailed.

Major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder are common diagnoses in these defendants (all adults) and are sometimes accompanied bysubstance use disorders. Some defendants with traumatic brain injuries or developmental disabilities are eligible as well.  (read the rest of the article here)

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Kid Cudi’s Mental Health Struggle Has Inspired Black Men To Talk About Depression

Here’s a short article from about a rapper who recently went public about his struggle with depression.  This is significant, as black men are not supposed to be seen as weak or in any way not strong.

I applaud him for being willing to be open about his mental health issue and hope this will encourage an open conversation about mental health issues between black men and women; between all men and all women.

Mental health problems are not the property of black people.  I do not want to give that impression.  Mental health is the original equal opportunity issue.  Mental health issues do not respect race, gender, age, socioeconomic status.  We are all potentially vulnerable to having mental health issues.

Kid Cudi’s Mental Health Struggle Has Inspired Black Men To Talk About Depression


Earlier this week the rapper revealed to fans that he was checking himself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges, which has inspired others to speak out about the taboo subject in Black communities.

On Tuesday, Kid Cudi shared with fans that he had checked into rehab for depression and suicidal urges.

“Its been difficult for me to find the words to what Im about to share with you because I feel ashamed. Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter and all of you, my fans,” he wrote in a heartfelt post.

Cudi’s revelation has inspired others to speak out about depression and masculinity, sparking a much needed conversation about Black men and mental health. On Twitter, the hashtag #yougoodman includes men sharing their own stories and tackling stereotypes about mental health in the Black community.

We wish Cudi all the best and are proud of him for speaking out and seeking help.

We hope the conversation around Black men, masculinity, and mental health continues and that others are inspired to seek help and share their story.


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