Professor Green has been praised for being so honest about his mental health, and using his platform to shed a light on serious issues.
The One Eye On The Door star – who recently teamed up with Gillette’s #MyRoleModel campaign – has put his all into helping others over the last few years, through his music, social media and documentary series.
However, speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, the 35-year-old explained everyone has a responsibility to help tackle the issue head on.
‘I think people in general should be more honest,’ he told us. ‘Don’t get me wrong. it’s down to everyone’s prerogative, what you want to share. But I think there’s a lot of good that can come from people sharing their stories, especially about hardships, because I don’t think you learn very much about yourself when everything’s all right… You learn a hell of a lot about yourself when things go wrong. That’s where we learn resilience.
‘That’s important, as far as being the best that you can be, is remembering we’re all resilient, we all have that in us. As much as it’s important to be honest about how we feel, and for men to be more open, it’s important to remember that strength that we all have.’
The rapper, real name Stephen Manderson, has released three albums and a string of singles, each more personal than the last, since he stepped on the scene back in 2006.
On top of all this, he also fronted seven documentaries, focusing on suicide, mental health, homelessness and drugs among others.
And he revealed that, while he has received amazing feedback and praise for his work in the past, he hasn’t done anything just for that intention.
‘I didn’t go into them thinking they were going to have that effect, in the same way that I didn’t think my music would have that effect,’ he continued. ‘And it’s amazing, but you can’t go looking for that. You have to do things [that mean something].
‘I don’t think that’s something that you can ever expect, or do things intentionally for. For all the talking that I do, the panels, Q&As and discussions that I’ve been a part of around mental health and masculinity, I don’t ever tell people a way in which they should live their lives. I talk about mine, and I’m happy to talk about what I’ve learned through experience, but if someone told me how to live my life, I’d shut off. In the documentaries I’ve done, I’ve always just been a catalyst for other people’s stories.
‘But when you give people who are in those situations the chance to speak, and to be vocal about what they’re going through, you can’t not listen. Because they’re talking from that place, in that position. And there’s a level of honesty that I can’t put across for them.’
There has been a spotlight put on mental health, and male suicide in particular, thanks largely to soaps on TV. EastEnders and Coronation Street have both recently had storylines focusing on characters with depression, bipolar disorder and having suicidal thoughts.
But, despite this, Pro believes there is a very long way to do in terms of the discussion.
‘Statistically it’s still no better,’ he said. ‘I think there’s a responsibility across all media platforms, for people to tackle really, really important and current issues. And I think it’s a great way to do it. Not everyone wants to listen to an expert in mental health talking about mental health problems. But when you’re watching one of your favourite TV characters in your favourite soap go through something you can relate to, and coming out the other side of it, it’s a reminder that you can too. And the most important thing when you’re going through something is to keep on going, because if you stop you become consumed by it. The only way to get through anything is to keep on going.
‘I didn’t want to be famous. I wanted people to appreciate my music, and I wanted to be known for my art. And fame was a byproduct of that. But it happened over a long time, people see what happened overnight as overnight. But it took me years of working towards that. I had time to adapt and to learn. And I was 27/28 even. So I was a pretty grown man. I was quite well equipped to deal with it.
‘Whereas now what’s happening is we start giving people keys to a Ferrari without ever giving them a driving lesson.’
So what needs to change? ‘I think we need to start actioning things. It’s going to take generations to really bring about a huge change. The better the tools we equip children with, the quicker things will change and the better things will be. When I was a kid, there was no such thing as mental health, we never heard that. There was, obviously, but you never heard that phrase.
‘Whereas now, when I go into schools it’s really encouraging because I hear children talking about mental health. But we need support in places where people need it most, we need for people to know that there’s no punishment that comes from being honest about having a mental health issue.’
Over the last four years, Pro has turned his hand to documentaries, shooting seven films in that time.
But he isn’t planning on any more at the moment, putting his mind firmly back on his music career.
‘I’ve been in the studio for 18 months,’ he said. ‘I did seven films in four years and at the end of it, was like, “Where have the last four years gone?” Filming is very time intensive. And I don’t film about pink or fluffy subjects… I have to think about my own wellbeing as well.
‘Coming off the back end of the four years of filming, I needed some time to use my output – which is the studio. I had to go back to my happy place and get myself happy again. And I’d love to go back to making documentaries at some point but it’s time to get out and get working on the music which is coming in July.’
We’ll have an EP in our ears next month, and a tour later in the year, and he’s adamant he wants the ‘music to do the talking’.
Pro has also been working with Gillette on their #MyRoleModel campaign ahead of Father’s Day, helping demonstrate what ‘being the best’ means for men today, celebrating self-expression, internal and external well-being, camaraderie, and dependability.
Discussing what drew him to the campaign, he added: ‘The message they’re sending about being the best we can be as men, which I think is really important. It’s important to know being the best you can be, that doesn’t mean looking at someone else and trying to be the best comparatively, which I think is an important note.
‘You shouldn’t be looking at someone else and thinking about what they’re doing, what they’re achieving… We all, at points in our lives, have been guilty of looking at others and measuring our success by someone else’s. Our lives move at different paces. And we’ll do different things.’
This Father’s Day, Gillette is celebrating all the role models that help you be your best. Join Gillette in thanking the people who’ve made a difference in your life. #MyRoleModel
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