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10 Black Men Who Have Come Forward With Depression

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Growing up, we didn’t really talk about mental illness, and when we did, it was done in disparaging ways. So, when my pediatrician prescribed me medication for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) right before I began my first year of college, I was in a world of hurt and confusion. Fast forward to two years ago, and I was crawling through a devastating bout of depression. It was “I can’t even muster up the energy to shower” difficult. I’d given up hope.

My story isn’t unique. Many are those with a requiem for lives lost in the wake of COVID-19. According to the CDC, Black men are 2.9 times more likely than white men to be hospitalized due to the virus. In addition to navigating the racism, environmental and otherwise, that yields such a disproportionate impact, our exhaustion and predisposition to illness have also rendered a high death count in Black men.

Our burdens are heavy. Often, our proclivity is to carry them alone. Still, hope isn’t lost. More and more of us are doing the work of pushing back against mental illness. We’re opening up. We’re sharing our hearts. This is why it’s been equally important for those with larger platforms to share their stories as well. Representation continues to matter.

Though some have controversial backgrounds, their speaking up can do wonders for ending cycles of pain, desolation and struggle one experiences with living with depression.

Here are 10 Black Men with celebrity status, who have spoken publicly about their experiences with depression.

1. Big Sean

In 2019 the rapper chose vulnerability over silence and opened up about his struggles with depression. He continues to make strides with his non-profit organization called the Sean Anderson Foundation, whose mission is to “assist in the education, health, safety and well-being of primary through college-aged youth in underserved communities across the country.”

2. T-Pain

In a clip from Netflix’s new docuseries, “This is Pop,” the rapper shares how disparaging words from R&B singer Usher, sent him into a deep depression. One Twitter user @ApspringGaylcon expressed, it be difficult to pinpoint the reason for the depression.

3. Stormzy

In a news interview, the British rapper provides context to his track “Lay Me Bare,” in which he says, “Like man’a get low sometimes, so low sometimes, Airplane mode on my phone sometimes, Sitting in my house with tears in my face, Can’t answer the door to my bro sometimes”. In addition to sharing how he hopes his song normalizes depression, Stormyz tells the interviewer about his surprise with how “stuck” he felt when dealing with depression, and how he had no idea of how it actually impacted people and made it nearly impossible to function.

4. Brandon Marshall

Last year, the former NFL star spoke out about the depression and shame associated with his borderline personality disorder diagnosis, and how he used to hide behind his hoodie, in high temperatures, so no one would recognize him. But, he’s moved on from this since then and has shared openly about his 2011 experience as a patient at McLean Hospital, and impacted lives through his foundation Project 375.

5. Wayne Brady

Years ago, the improv comedian and television host told Entertainment Tonight about his experience with depression following the death of Robin Williams. Brady shared about the shame spiral he navigated and about the importance of recognizing that no one, not even him, is always happy because humans have a range of emotions and experiences.

6. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

In a tweet, the actor shared about men have the tendency to hold in their struggles and how the “key is to not be afraid to open up.” The social media post was a follow-up to his The Daily Express interview, in which he shared stories related to his bouts with depression, including the impact his mother’s suicide attempt had on him since the age of 15.


7. Vic Mensa

On his June 2018 track, “10K Problems,” Vic Mensa raps “Relapsing D-R-U-G habits / Tryin’ move forward, depression been holding me backwards.” In an interview with, Vic shared how he works to unravel the shame associated with depression because he wants to empower his fans to name their battles as well.

8. J. Cole

In an interview with Vulture titled “J.Cole Just Wants to Be Himself,” the rapper shares about the theme of addiction on his album. “K.O.D.” and the depression he experienced for three years. He goes on to share about how pouring himself into his family has grounded him, even amidst massive success, critiques, and worries about how others view him.

9. Kid Cudi

Years ago, Kid Cudi voluntarily admitted himself into rehab to manage his depression. Early in June 2021, supportive responses came from the rapper’s fans, in response to his Instagram post which began with “Sadness eats away at me sometimes.” Kid Cudi has continued to be honest and forthcoming about his struggles, an inspiration all around.

10. Kendrick Lamar

Following his 2015 release “To Pimp a Butterfly,” the rapper shared how the album was therapy for him. On his track, “i”, Kendrick raps: I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent.” Kendrick’s words resonated with the teenage and present me in more ways than one. An acknowledgment I, and other Black men, needed to hear.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and somehow interrupt the narratives being proliferated by family members. Though I can’t traverse through time, presently, things are slowly improving. According to celebrity therapist Jeff Rocker “Unlike in the past, where African Americans viewed dialogues regarding mental health as an embarrassment, Black families have currently started discussing psychological well-being issues.” We’re done feeling embarrassed. We’re done hiding. I look forward to the next brave soul who uses their platform for our good.


Lead images via Vic Mensa and Dwayne Johnson’s Instagram

Originally published: June 30, 2021
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