ST. LOUIS – Crisis counselors say the mental health crisis is impacting the Black community harder than most. We’ve told you about the overall spike in crisis calls under the pandemic, now we’re looking at how one community is dealing with being hardest hit.
Cedric Redmon is an entertainer, a rapper, and St. Louis’ Youth Ambassador – a job which requires him to listen to and empower people who want to do better.
“We have an opportunity to change the world from right in the middle of the country. St. Louis can be that city that teaches the rest of the country,” Redmon said.
That’s not just a line. Redmon believes it.
Yet, his optimism is tested daily. It was nearly shattered when his friend, Lawrence Jackson, aka the rapper Huey, was killed in a drive-by shooting on June 25 in north St. Louis County.
“He moved back home and his life was taken in the neighborhood that you’ve claimed your entire life. It just lets you know that, man, something’s gotta change around this place,” Redmon said. “You should be able to go home—you know—and, unfortunately, you’ve got a lot of people on this side of things or on that side of things and nobody’s really coming into the middle to meet and discuss and to negotiate anything.”
Redmon became increasingly frustrated as he was mourning his friend’s murder. He said he was hurt to see other people screaming about statues.
“The statue itself does not remind me of when my people were enslaved or were, you know, indigenously hunted down. It doesn’t remind me of that,” he said. “It lets me know how far I came. How far we’ve come as a society.”
While Redmon can talk about his trauma, many others won’t.
“It’s so stigmatized in the Black community to get help, that we go through these traumas a lot of times alone,” said Kanisha Chavers, a case manager for Provident Behavioral Health, which runs a 24-hour crisis line. “We try to do it ourselves without reaching out for help.”
“We are a culture of – let’s figure out the problem and let’s figure out how to fix it. Let’s make sure it looks pretty and neat.”
Chavers said that can be hurt people more; it’s important to validate someone’s feelings instead.
“Things may not be ok. Things are not ok right now,” she said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen so, you know, just validate people’s feelings let them experience them. Listen to them.”
Redmon added: “The biggest part of the problem is that nobody’s listening. 90 percent of life is listening – especially when being a musician and an artist, you know, I never learned how to make music until I learned how to listen to it.”
Provident Crisis Hotline: 314-647-4357
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (veterans should press 1 to be connected with the veterans’ crisis line)