Coming up in the 90s, rapper Jay-Z made a name for himself with songs like “99 Problems,” “Hard Knock Life,” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” His songs praised toughness, hustle, and being hard. 

But this past weekend, Jay-Z sounded out a different note — and one that is equally important for young kids to hear. In a powerful exchange with CNN’s Van Jones, Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter, spoke out about the importance of ensuring young kids have access to mental health services, such as therapists in schools.

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“[Mental health is] a stigma,” Carter said. “As you grow, you realize the ridiculousness of the stigma attached to it.” 

“I think [therapists] should actually be in our schools,” he added. 

In the interview, Jay-Z also mentioned that he himself regularly attends therapy sessions. 

He would go on to say that many children simply don’t “have the language to navigate” discussions of mental health, the lack of which can lead to negative health implications down the road. 

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Nearly half of all school-aged children who needed mental health treatment did not receive it in 2011-2012, according to a 2014 study by the nonprofit Children’s Defense Fund

This is worse for children living in poverty. Less than 15% of students who live below the poverty line had sufficient access to mental health resources, according to a different study that appeared in the medical journal Pediatric. 

Part of this disparity is due to a lack of access of mental health facilities for lower-income Americans, AJMC reports. While roughly two in five wealthier neighborhoods had access to mental health care facilities, such as therapists and clinics, fewer than one-quarter of low-income communities had that same access. 

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That said, there have been efforts to improve access to mental health services for kids living in poverty, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act, which authorized $1.6 billion in grants to improve mental and behavioral health services, The Atlantic reports

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which include goals number one, ending poverty; three, good health and well-being; and four, quality education, all of which are intrinsically linked. You can join us and take action to support our efforts to increase access to education around the world here


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Jay-Z Calls to End Mental Health Stigmas in Public Schools

By Phineas Rueckert