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Rapper G Herbo Launches Initiative to Provide Therapy for Young Black People

What happened: In an interview with Chicago Reader, rapper G Herbo opened up about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and his efforts to raise awareness about the effects of trauma on young Black people. The star, whose new album “PTSD” came out in February, was diagnosed with the condition about two years ago and has become a vocal advocate for mental health accessibility within Black communities.

Like many of those who live with mental illness, Herbo’s debilitating PTSD was at least partially triggered by childhood trauma. The rapper grew up in poverty and was surrounded by drug addiction and violence. He witnessed his first murder when he was around the age of 8 or 9, and by the time he was in his mid-teens, he’d lost several friends to gun violence.

Trust me, with PTSD, you make certain decisions based upon the way you feel and how you react to certain situations. I couldn’t finish school because I had PTSD. I didn’t know I had PTSD, but I know I couldn’t graduate high school because I was in fear of somebody always trying to do something to me, trying to kill me. I was in fear of my life all the time. — G Herbo

The frontlines: G Herbo isn’t alone in his diagnosis. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

  • 8 million Americans over the age of 18 have PTSD.
  • 6% of American adults experienced PTSD in the last year.
  • 67% of those exposed to mass violence develop PTSD symptoms.

How he’s giving back: Herbo only began managing his PTSD with the help of therapy, and he wants to pay it forward by offering those services to young Black adults. The rapper launched a mental health initiative called “Swervin’ Through Stress: Tools to Help Black Youth Navigate Mental Wellness,” which provides resources for young adults who have experienced trauma.

As part of the initiative, his label, Machine Entertainment Group, teamed up with music-streaming service Audiomack, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and InnoPsych, a Massachusetts-based service that connects people with therapists of color, to give 150 kids free therapy. His next goal is 500.

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Elle Ivy Ray, talked about what it felt like to receive her PTSD diagnosis and finally start treatment. “I had always been labeled ‘sensitive.’ I never liked that label, but I could not argue against the evidence — I would have meltdowns where I would cry uncontrollably, heaving, unable to speak, over something that was said or a conversation that turned ugly,” she wrote. “My diagnosis of bipolar disorder never explained these, and I never knew they were panic attacks until I began learning about PTSD.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

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Other things to know: PTSD has a wealth of symptoms that can range from annoying to embarrassing to terrifying. To learn more about what it’s like to live with PTSD, check out:

How to take action: Herbo’s offering free 12-week therapy sessions to Black adults under the age of 25. Applications, which will start being accepted in September, can be filled out via the Swervin’ Through Stress website.

Herbo also created a PTSD hotline — 844-457-PTSD (7873) — where those struggling can talk to a qualified professional. It operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday.

Header image via G Herbo/Instagram