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Kofi Siriboe Has a New Mini-Documentary Out About Blacks and Mental Health

By JaVonni Brustow / Published on Wednesday, 06 Jun 2018 00:03 AM / No Comments
Photo credit: Leon Bennett

Kofi Siriboe is addressing a taboo in the black community that community leaders all acknowledge is a problem but no one wants to talk about it and that is mental health. The Queen Sugar actor and Wilhemina model filmed a mini documentary in the Bronx, appropriately titled WTF Is Mental Health? Considering the CDC reports high rates of depression among African American women with low rates of treatment and the National Alliance of Mental Illness reporting that African Americans are 20% more likely to experience mental illness than the general public, this film is absolutely needed.

“I feel like with mental health, people always react negatively. We kinda have a lot of stigma in our community and in society in general,” the 24-year-old actor told HuffPost. “I feel like that space wasn’t really created for us.”

“Making ‘WTF Is Mental Health?’ has been a part of a healing process for me, one I’m still exploring,” Siriboe added. “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.”

“Everybody doesn’t have that language and doesn’t understand that there is a community or world out there of people who are dealing with similar things, so I really want to explore what it is and what it means to us,” Siriboe said. “A lot of our project is just asking questions, and I think with the questions they’re able to give us answers and able to define these definitions for ourself rather than what we’re accustomed to being told.”

This isn’t just some social project he decided to do to make himself feel better about himself, it does in fact hit close to home and in ways you wouldn’t imagine. It was at the height of his success he said he experienced “some type of unease, a level of unhappiness I really couldn’t shake.”

“I didn’t really have the language, but I think it’s a mixture of anxiety, it’s a mixture of depression, it’s a mixture of general unease,” he continued. “Also sometimes, it’s just feeling isolated.”

“I get to express, but what about those people who don’t have that opportunity, they’re bottling up all this emotion and being told it’s not real then we wanna talk about mental health after there’s a reaction to what’s been bottled up … and it’s not gonna stop. It’s only gonna keep getting worse,” he said of the suicide rates. “It creates a system that disconnects a person, disconnects a community and we’re weak that way. It creates a vulnerability that isn’t strength. It’s not chosen. We should be vulnerable by choice cause that’s all we can be. We have to acknowledge what it is and accept it.”

He’s hoping that this documentary will help change some of the negative statistics in our community and give people a chance to have an open conversation about mental health without the stigma often associated with it. He’s doing this by also asking young black people to submit film of themselves discussing their mental health experiences.

“If we don’t admit what’s going on to ourselves, we’re gonna keep hurting in silence, which is killing us twice as much as our Caucasian counterparts. No one is gonna talk about it because it’s taboo,” he said. “That’s what I wanna end.”

Glitzers, watch Kofi Siriboe’s documentary WTF is Mental Health below and tell us what you think:

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About JaVonni Brustow

Urban Conservative, Principal at VM3 Media, Co-Editor-in-Chief of PopGlitz.com and MogulPundit.com, Javonni Brustow is a Communications and Media Consultant in Washington, DC with a decade of experience as a seasoned concert producer, marketing expert and brand management expert with multiple news publications. He can be heard LIVE Sundays at 3pm on Popglitz Radio and is a regular on the 'Did She Say That' Breitbart Radio Show with Sonnie Johnson. Inquiries: javonni@VM3Media.com