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Why Stormzy talking about depression is a teacher kids need

In a new interview the grime star opens up about his own battles and the fragility of humans – but schools remain silent

We still need to talk about mental health. Especially to teenagers in schools. Despite a teen mental health crisis, there remains no place for it on the school curriculum, meaning that people leave school at 16 or 18 without any structured, professional teaching on an issue that they will inevitably battle in their lives, whether it‘s themselves or someone close to them.

The consistent failure of successive governments to address a glaring, dangerous omission leaves it to kids to learn another way. Enter Stormzy. In a candid interview with Channel 4 News discussing his debut record Gang Signs And Prayer, the Croydon-born MC opened up about depression – not just his friend’s illness and his once dismissive reaction to it, but his own.

“For me it was a realisation of how fragile we are as humans, in the most beautiful way possible” – Stormzy

On battling depression Stormzy said, “For me it was a realisation of how fragile we are as humans, in the most beautiful way possible,” being thoughtful and existentially reflective about something that can be stigmatised and ignored.

He talks about his own misunderstanding of the illness, how he used to think one of his best mates should just “pull it together” and reveals his dilemma over whether to include his own experiences with depression on his album. But, he says, he realised that “if there’s anyone out there going through that, I think that for them to see that I went through it would help...For me to just let people know, no I do, I do go through that, I thought that was important for people to know.”

This is an ascending artist acutely aware of his place as a role model, who is exercising his power positively. For young kids growing up in London idolising him, fixated on his every move, this type of lesson will be invaluable, particularly because they won’t learn about it where they should – in Biology and Chemistry.

Going personal, my inability to deal with a friend’s depression still haunts me. It was a simple case of Young Man Just Doesn’t Know The Right Thing To Say. I still cringe at things I remember saying, things I thought were helpful, but can’t have been. I didn’t know enough about it, I didn’t know how to communicate, I didn’t know how real it was. 

In a world that still doesn’t educate properly around mental health, I love the fact that Stomzy’s taken the time to say to his fans, “I felt like that too – if you look up to me, I’m with you and we all go through it. I understand.” That will have been all someone wanted to hear. Watch below.