Guvna B is the first U.K artist to be nominated, and win ‘Best Gospel’ MOBO award not just once, but TWICE. His career spans the last eight years with a plethora of awards and achievements, including over two million youtube hits. Guvna is passionate about role modelling a positive message to the next generation. I was keen to find out more about his journey of mental wellbeing in an industry that can be a rollercoaster ride of total highs and depressing lows.
LJ: A couple of stats I read recently have really shocked me, suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, and according to Time to Change survey men are waiting as long as one year before reporting a mental health issue. I’m keen to find out why some men are waiting so long to report mental health concerns?
GB: Speaking from my own personal experience growing up I really struggled to communicate my feelings and emotions so that resulted in me keeping it all in. I’m a black male raised on an East London council estate. I’m the first British person (born in England) in my whole family line. I’ve lost close friends to serious youth violence. I’m a Christian living in a world full of temptation and stereotypes. It’s tough. There are a lot of struggles that come with all those things that people won’t understand. I can’t go through all of it alone so the main thing I had to push myself to do, was talk.
I wouldn’t say I had depression, but I would say I’ve been in a few depressive states. When I keep things in, I tend to overthink and go silent. I shut myself away from the world and try to bear the brunt of situations myself. I’m an introvert naturally so most people won’t be able to tell I’m struggling. I guess low moods and keeping things in my head is my main mental struggle.
LJ: Why do you think you have bottled stuff up rather than spoken out?
GB: I guess it’s just the way I grew up. My family and me are very close but I rarely shared about the deep stuff I was going through. It was more just the surface level stuff I’d talk about. I guess it’s just a habit that stuck and when I got older I realised it was a problem, because I wanted to communicate my deeper feelings, but I didn’t know how. I’d literally be speaking to someone and wanting to say something but not be able to find the words.
LJ: In your opinion, what can young men do on a daily in order to hold it together?
I think the first thing is to stop putting pressure on yourself to be perfect. No one is so it’s okay not to be okay. Next thing is to find someone to talk to. I saw a counsellor who really helped me with techniques that I could use to communicate emotions. I still struggle today but it’s definitely a lot better than it used to be.
LJ: Are there any books or resources that you have found helpful that the readers could grab a hold of?
GB: Well for me my faith is a big thing and shapes my worldview so I would lean towards the Bible. There’s also a great speaker I listen to quite a lot called Robert Madu. I pray a lot because sometimes when it’s too hard to talk to people, I find it easier to talk to God. Plus there’s a great book I read by T.D Jakes called He Motions which really helped me too.
LJ: For people reading this today who may be considering getting help, what would you recommend?
GB: As I mentioned above I saw a great counsellor called Clare Stell. She’s incredible. Also, I would recommend visiting your GP, these days mental health concerns are taken much more seriously. I’m learning that speaking out is not a weakness, it’s a strength.
LJ: It’s a privilege to be able to talk to you, and thank you for your honesty. I know this will be helpful to so many people out there who maybe struggle to communicate how they are feeling, and what to do with their emotions. If you think this post could help someone you know who is struggling to speak out, please share. Together we can change the stats on suicide and promote hope instead. If you need someone to talk to right now, why not give Samaritans a call; click here for details.
To find out more about Guvna B and to follow his journey click here
Watch his live performance at the MOBO’s here