Chance The Rapper Talks Mental Illness

This is important.

If the name Chance The Rapper Sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because he’s having a banner year. With a heap of Grammy wins, a highly publicized $1 million-dollar donation to Chicago Public Schools and an “official debut album” coming out soon, it’s good to be Chance. But the rising star is also taking time out from his fantastic life to talk about mental illness—and that’s a huge deal.

In an interview with Complex magazine, Chance discussed his experience with anxiety, and how dealing with his mental health has been a difficult process for him. Because there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health in the black community, it can be difficult to discuss these things candidly.

Chance The Rapper photo
Getty Images | Christopher Polk

“I think anxiety is also something that I’m just now being exposed to,” Chance said in the interview. “A really big conversation and idea that I’m getting introduced to right now is black mental health. ’Cause for a long time that wasn’t a thing that we talked about. I don’t remember it. I don’t remember people talking about anxiety; I don’t remember, when I was growing up, that really being a thing.”

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And even today, mental illness within the sphere of black culture is still pushed by the wayside. It happened when Kanye West had an incredibly public meltdown that garnered massive media attention and speculation. It happened when Kid Cudi told the world he was going into treatment for depression and suicidal ideation and Drake released a diss track about him. And you don’t have to be a famous black rapper for mental health to be ignored.

kanye west photo
Getty Images | Dimitrios Kambouris

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are a number of reasons African-Americans don’t approach treatment and care for mental illness. According to NAMI, these reasons are varied but include everything from “lack of information and misunderstanding about mental health” to “faith, spirituality, and community.” There’s also “reluctance and inability to access mental health services;” negative side-effects from medications; “provider bias and inequality of care;” and “lack of cultural competence” in holistic mental health care.