Posted on: October 15, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Xena Romo, JRN 111 Student

Chicago hip-hop artist The Law of Huey captures how a lot of today’s college students struggle with mental illness in the lyrics to his song, “Stress, My Best Friend”: “Tryin’ to find my purpose / Tryin’ to fight these demons / Contemplatin’ life / Should I stay or am I leavin?’”

Huey was one of three hip-hop artists that participated in a WebEx event Thursday, Oct. 8, called Mental Health Meets Hip-Hop. The event was hosted and coordinated by Moraine Valley counselors Sara Levi and Shanya Grey in collaboration with Chicago MCs and mental health professionals. Also featured were Big Mouf’Bo and Tatiana Lane, the CEO and founder of Mental Health Meets Hip-Hop, who is also a mental health professional.

“I think it’s cliché saying, ‘Oh I need to go to therapy’ but it helps,” Huey said. “I don’t know exactly when I started dealing with this, I know I’ve been dealing with depression for a long time and I still deal with it on and off.”

Mental health issues are commonly seen among college students today. College can bring out these emotions among young adults, especially right now during quarantine when we must isolate and pull back from society’s norm. Moraine Valley hosted this event during Mental-Health awareness week to demonstrate the severity of mental ilnesses.

“Our community and communities at large need to understand the impact of trauma and all these things in our life and the importance of mental health,” Grey stressed.

Hip-hop lyrics can help with coping with mental illness. Many hip-hop songs deal with the topics of mental illness and addiction and overcoming struggles. Hip-hop is a platform for expression and providing empowerment as well as a positive self-esteem for yourself and others.

Mental Health Meets Hip-Hop bills itself on its website as: “where mental health professionals infiltrate ‘THE CULTURE.'”

 “Mental health meets hip-hop is not just necessarily just hip-hop music,” Lane said. “It’s about the culture. Hip-hop has a culture. It has its own language; it has its sociology behind it, the culture. The way people act, to the way they dress, to the way that they talk.”

On its website, the organization describes its goal: “Mental Health Meets Hip-Hop is a program that invites Mental Health Professionals into THE CULTURE.” The mission is “curating a positive vision about mental wellness.”

During the Moraine event, Lane discussed coping mechanisms such as meditation, music, dancing, and painting. These outlets allow people to express themselves, and creating something out of your own feelings and mood can be fulfilling.

The Black community suffers from a great increase of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. Huey expresses that in the Black community, it’s not very common for people to confess they are struggling with a mental health problem. People don’t have full awareness of what they are going through, and they’re dealing with these issues on their own and they aren’t coming to a full understanding of the demons they are battling.

“You don’t know how many people have seen literal dead bodies or have been involved in shootouts and things of that nature and are expected to go to school the next morning and function just fine,” he said. “I’ve never had to deal with such extremes in my neighborhood growing up, but I can resonate with the idea of dealing with gangs and getting jumped and having to jump people just to ‘fit in’ and in a sense not be a target.”

It isn’t normalized for people of color to admit they are dealing with mental illness, so it becomes a bit more of a challenge to access and trust the resources to get the help that they need.

Lane said one outlet that helps her is writing. Her song “And I” was inspired by a relative who committed suicide. The lyrics sum up why she started Mental Health Meets Hip-Hop: “It’s some lessons, it’s some blessins when you get through the pain / The sun ain’t always gonna shine, you gotta dance through the rain / You gotta love yourself, and your mental health / You know somebody goin’ through it, then reach out and help.”

To watch the video of the event, go to MVConnect > Student Resources > Counseling > Mental Health Awareness.