PROFESSOR GREEN may have won awards for his music, but the rapper, aka Stephen Manderson, has also been making a name for himself as a mental health campaigner. His own father committed suicide and his BBC Three documentary, Suicide And Me, gave the nation an insight into the mental health challenges he has encountered and overcome. With one-in-four people in the UK struggling with their mental health in any given year, Professor Green has now become the first brand ambassador for My Online Therapy, the UK’s first virtual psychology clinic.
Why are you so interested in addressing mental health?
My journey into mental health began when my dad took his own life when I was 24. However, my own issues with mental health began as a child with a ‘tummy ache’ — a tummy ache, I eventually realised, was actually a feeling of overwhelming anxiety. It still affects me today. It’s terribly sad to think [my dad] died alone with a feeling of no way out. It breaks my heart to think about somebody so gentle in life dying so violently.
Do you feel ‘brave’ talking about it?
No. I don’t make music for accolades nor do I talk about mental health for a pat on the back or to feel brave. Mental health is something I began speaking about by way of music — I wouldn’t compare the two, nor their rewards. What I would say is it’s extremely bittersweet to get such a large response from the mental health work I do, as it highlights how many people are affected.
Is poor mental health becoming a symptom of modern life?
I don’t think it’s necessarily conducive to mental wellbeing. There’s stress in almost every aspect of our lives, which for some of us creates an almost permanent state of ‘fight or flight’ and causes an overload of cortisol. People talk about stress being a killer, and it is. Many mental health conditions can present as physical symptoms and vice versa.
How does your mental health affect you day-to-day? Are you always aware of it?
It isn’t something I’m always aware of, which for a lot of people is the problem — they aren’t aware of their own issues. It was a problem for me but I’ve got a lot better at spotting myself slipping into negative thought cycles. It has affected me today, actually, and recently. I’ve been waking up with a knot in my stomach, which isn’t something I’ve dealt with for a long time. I don’t like it, but with the many severe traumas I’ve suffered, it’s understandable that I worry about impending doom. But to get through anything, you have to push through and keep going.
What do you do in terms of health and fitness?
I try and keep active — moving is important. A great prescription for anyone feeling low would be to get moving. I like circuit and strength training, coupled with getting out among nature and walking. I take prebiotics and probiotics to have a healthy gut and a healthy mind. I also take cold showers to which there are many benefits.
What is My Online Therapy?
My Online Therapy is a virtual psychology clinic that allows people to access a psychologist from the comfort of their own home, letting them fit therapy sessions around work, home and family life. I partnered with the business because it aligns with everything I believe in. Many people can’t access therapy and that’s down to a multitude of reasons: time constraints, busy schedules, location, immobility, responsibilities such as childcare, etc. For others, it’s the same reason they need therapy that stops them from accessing it — anxiety. My Online Therapy is a brilliant platform for people who might not be ready to walk into a physical psychology clinic or who might need to do so remotely.