When rapper Big Sean went public in 2019 with his struggles with depression, which he’d been dealing with, along with anxiety, since he was a teenager, he hadn’t intended to become an advocate for mental health awareness. He was simply tired of portraying that everything in his life was great when it wasn’t.
“I was just being honest,” he tells ESSENCE. “I was just keeping it real because I was tired of not keeping it real. I was tired of pretending I was a machine and everything was cool and being politically correct or whatever. I just was like, I’m a just say how I feel.”
His revelation, as a major star in hip-hop, was a brave one, though. It helped spark conversations about how people cope when it comes to their mental health, particularly Black men. Now he’s taking things a step further in the hopes of helping everyone better deal with mental illness, and he’s doing so with help from his mom, educator Myra Anderson.
The two are teaming up for a video series through his nonprofit, the Sean Anderson Foundation, which supports underserved youth and their families. The videos, which will be released every Saturday at 12 p.m. EST/9 a.m. PST during the month of May to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, will feature mother and son having candid conversations about areas of wellness that can impact mental health. Topics include proper diet and exercise, the use of meditation, sleep/circadian rhythms, mindset, and the emotional freedom technique (EFT).
“I feel that I have been exposed to so many different tools and techniques that I wanted to share,” Ms. Anderson says when asked about the motivation for the series. “There are so many lifestyle changes that people can do that will improve their depression or anxiety and their physical and emotional bodies. I mentioned it and Sean was then very interested and behind it. He definitely was the inspiration.”
Both Sean and his mom are looking to provide affordable, accessible support to people, particularly after the pandemic impacted the mental health of so many.
“I just hope people take away whatever they need from it,” he says. “Whatever they can apply to their life and better themselves and maybe it just even starts a whole journey in a different direction as far as upgrading and taking care of themselves and bossing up themselves. Whatever they’re trying to do, I hope it helps them get to that place.”
“I want to empower people,” Ms. Anderson says. “They don’t have to be a victim or suffer, they can be in control of their lives.”
Check out our conversation with Sean and his mother above about bringing faith and professional help together when dealing with mental health struggles, her reaction to him sharing what he was going through online, and how collaborating on the series has been an opportunity for mother and son to spend time together.