Charlamagne Tha God Speaks Out On Mental Health, Therapy and More

Radio and TV show host, Charlamagne Tha God appeared on Today with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush to talk about his mental health journey, faith, and the unwavering support of the women in his life. 

Lenard McKelvey, popularly known as Charlamagne Tha God, has been a long-standing advocate for mental health. His journey from living rough in a small town in South Carolina to an award-winning radio host speaks volumes. “I always find that people who I love the most are the people who have had the roughest time and kind of pulled themselves up,” said Hoda.

“When people look at you they may say well, he’s got a couple of shows, he’s got a foundation, he’s dressed to the nines. But you were on your knees a lot early on in the world. There were a lot of rejections, and somehow, here you sit!” she added.

Charlamagne grew up in Moncks Corner, with limited opportunities and an environment ripe for falling off track. To make matters more complicated, his parents experienced many mental health issues of their own. In response to his fear of falling into the same trap, Charlamagne formed a career that was built upon the determination to rise every time he was knocked to the ground. Beginning at radio station Z93 Jamz, he soon found a collaboration with Angela Yee and DJ Envy, which led to the founding of “The Breakfast Club”- hip hop’s most successful radio show. “The Breakfast Club” was recently inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, further cementing Charlamagne’s name as a radio icon and guru. 

Hoda and Jenna also spoke with Charlamagne about his latest venture, a late-night TV show on Comedy Central called “Tha God’s Honest Truth with Charlamagne Tha God.” After several stints on radio, a few TV appearances and cameos, the new TV show hosted by Charlamagne is an opportunity to view the world through his solo lens. The show is a unique pursuit that looks to dissect social issues using deep dives, sketches, and social experiments.

Undeniably honest, his comedy sketches are a breath of fresh air in a world filled with half-baked truths. Since the premiere, Charlamagne has covered topics that touch upon the racism present in the FBI’s treatment of Black people and communities, critical race theory, mental health and generational trauma, and the toxic effects of social media.

When prompted to disclose the reason behind his success, Charlamagne was quick to state, “God. When I sit back and I look upon my life, that’s the only thing that got me from that point to this point. I always say at this point in my life, God, Black women, and therapy are my life sources.” He singled out his mother, grandmother, and his sister for always being supportive in his journey and wishing him well.

Perhaps one of the most outspoken personalities to grace mainstream media, Charlamagne opened up about struggling with depression and anxiety, and how it was important for him to share this experience. “Why is it important that you talk so openly about this?” asked host Jenna. Charlamagne responded by explaining how he began opening up about taking therapy in 2016 as a survival instinct. “You’re sitting on the radio every day, or you’re sitting on TV every day. I can’t sit there and talk about what everybody else is doing when I’ve got my issues. For me, to be the authentic, transparent person I always pride myself on being – it was just a conversation about what was going on in my life. Therapy was a big part of it at the time.”

Charlamagne has often spoken about the trauma he faced as a child and how his parents struggled with mental health. In an episode on Tha God’s Honest Truth, he spoke about his father confessing to years spent struggling with depression and surviving an attempted suicide. He also revealed how he wished his parents had confided in him earlier so that he could make sense of the battle that was raging within his own mind. The silver lining here is that Charlamagne has used his experiences to educate and uplift members of his community. He believes that it is vital for the stigma of mental health to be removed and for it to be treated with the same importance as physical health.

In 2018, Charlamagne released a book called “Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me,” which chronicles his journey battling anxiety and overcoming his fears. The national bestseller is an ode to Charlamagne’s mental health journey, the resources he utilized to brave through his anxieties, and the tools he learned through therapy. He hopes to inspire thousands of others in beginning their journey in healing trauma that has been passed down over generations.   

Charlamagne also revealed that he frequently visits a mental health gym called Inception, which provides state-of-the-art facilities for alternative therapy techniques. Inceptionis an institution founded by David McCullar that promotes the use of brain training therapy, an alternative health modality, to reduce symptoms from stress and traumatic events. Services at Inceptionalso include magnetic therapy and red light treatment.

In 2019, Charlamagne launched a platform called Mental Wealth Alliance (“MWA”) – a forward-thinking foundation that has been created to destigmatize, accelerate and center state-of-the-art mental health outreach and care across the U.S. while building an unprecedented long-term system of generational support for Black Communities. The initiative aims to raise at least $100 million over the next five years and is looking to associate with other Black-led institutes to help create awareness regarding mental health.

In 2021, Charlamagne furthered his efforts towards mental health outreach by honoring the Foster Youth at the LA County Independent Living Program’s 2021 Virtual High School Graduation & Scholarship Award Celebration. He presented five scholarships to students looking to pursue a profession in mental health. The scholarships will help support their studies in majors such as Psychology, Political Science, Social Work, and Sociology. The five students are also going to benefit from free virtual therapy sessions, whereas a sixth student will receive free sessions as well as a scholarship from an organization partnering with MWA.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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