Attend­ing a cor­por­ate com­pany talk on well­being and men­tal health, the last per­son I would expect to see as a head­line speak­er would be Grime artist Pro­fess­or Green, real name Steph­en Mander­son. Intrigued at what he had to share but also how this cor­por­ate (and much older) crowd would receive him I took my seat in a full room. As I waited for the talk to begin, I felt a small sense of pride to see an artist such as Green make it this far, jump­ing social bar­ri­ers. I also wondered if the crowd con­sist­ing of many sci­ent­ists knew that he was not in fact an actu­al pro­fess­or. This was briefly addressed later on where he joked his chair was in ‘Hor­ti­cul­ture’ which I’m sure went above some heads.

Pro­fess­or Green has come a long way as an artist but also as a spokes­per­son for men­tal health and pat­ron of the anti-sui­cide char­ity CALM. As a child, Green had to deal with the tragedy of his fath­er tak­ing his own life.  Thus began his struggle with men­tal health, often a taboo sub­ject espe­cial for young men. Now openly able to dis­cuss his men­tal health issues and struggled with anxi­ety, Green took the step to be vocal about his exper­i­ences in the doc­u­ment­ary out­lining his jour­ney, ‘Sui­cide and Men’. Hop­ing to open up the doors of dis­cus­sion and trans­par­ency for others.

Green’s rise to fame saw him rock­et into the lime­light lead­ing to a chaot­ic life­style. The stress and pres­sure lead him to have a seizure des­pite not being epi­leptic, this caused him to take a look at how he was liv­ing and how he could improve his life­style to main­tain his health and in turn his focus. He admit­ted it was not as simple as that, “Every les­son I’ve learned by get­ting some­thing wrong or right is bene­fi­cial — that’s life, we’re all works in progress.

One of this main tips to con­trolling his own men­tal health is to take care of his body, which then affects his men­tal capa­city to func­tion, “It comes down to mak­ing bet­ter decisions,” he said. “I know what makes me happy and what does­n’t. If I exer­cise I make bet­ter decisions. If I sleep well I make bet­ter decisions. The more bet­ter decisions, the bet­ter life gets.” You can tell why he now gives talks to those seek­ing advice on a bet­ter work-life bal­ance. Emphas­iz­ing the import­ance of not hold­ing onto neg­at­ive thoughts and learn­ing to let them go the crowd had his full atten­tion. To let go of things out of our con­trol, no to worry about them as that neg­at­ively impacts decisions we actu­ally do have the power to make.

Com­ment­ing on how self-destruct­ive he world is today, Green com­men­ted on what he would like to see for the future. “I would just like to have even stronger bonds with people that I count and con­sider as my friends and fam­ily. I would like to see them well and be well. I would like to have my own chil­dren and still be learn­ing — that’s when I’m happiest.”

Shock­ing some audi­ence mem­bers at points with his col­or­ful lan­guage, I respec­ted that he did not change him­self to give this talk, that he remained authen­t­ic to him­self. His abil­ity to touch this audi­ence that he nor­mally wouldn’t have inter­ac­ted with shows we can all learn from one anoth­er no mat­ter who we are. That social influ­en­cers such as him­self have the power to change perceptions.

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Faizah Cyanide

Faizah works in clin­ic­al research by pro­fes­sion and has been an avid Hip Hop lov­er since the early 90’s, hav­ing cre­ated her own Hip Hop event, ‘Breakin’ Bound­ar­ies’ in the early 2000’s which was pre­dom­in­antly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al events pro­moters and dan­cers to inspire oth­ers through this artform.

About Faizah Cyanide

Faizah works in clinical research by profession and has been an avid Hip Hop lover since the early 90's, having created her own Hip Hop event, 'Breakin' Boundaries' in the early 2000's which was predominantly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with several international events promoters and dancers to inspire others through this artform.