<p>Kofi Siriboe</p>

Michael Rowe

Queen Sugar star Kofi Siriboe is more than just a talented actor with a handsome face. The 24-year-old is also a poet and artist who is passionate about mental health awareness. Recently, Siriboe released a short film on the topic, aptly titled “WTF Is Mental Health?” to help further the dialog in Black communities about taking care of ourselves.

“I feel like with mental health, people always react negatively. We kinda have a lot of stigma in our community and in society in general,” Siriboe told the HuffPost. “I feel like that space wasn’t really created for us.”

Siriboe, called the project a “healing experience,” and said it was a companion piece to another short he created a few years ago after his close friend took his own life.

“Making ‘WTF Is Mental Health?’ has been a part of a healing process for me, one I’m still exploring. It’s the companion piece to ‘Jump,’ a short film I made after a mentor and big brother figure died by suicide, just before I got the call that I’d been cast in Queen Sugar,” Siriboe explained. “I started working on this beautiful, emotional show and felt how liberating it was to channel my fears into art. As I began to mold ‘Jump,’ I realized the true conversation I was craving centered on young Black people who are figuring out this mental health thing, too.”

While we’ve made strides in reducing the stigma around the need to seek help, far too many Black people are still suffering in silence. Last month, a study found that suicide rates among Black children are on the rise, and Siriboe hopes his short film will give people the language to discuss what they’re going through and let them know it’s ok to seek assistance.

“If we don’t admit what’s going on to ourselves, we’re gonna keep hurting in silence, which is killing us twice as much as our Caucasian counterparts,” he said. “No one is gonna talk about it because it’s taboo. That’s what I wanna end.”

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