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Award-winning artist Common headlines Redefining Mental Health event

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Nika Anschuetz





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Lonnie Rashid Lynn — the Grammy-, Emmy- and Academy Award-winning artist known as Common — wasn’t thinking about mental health when he found therapy. After a tough breakup, Common found healing through a familiar face - a friend who nudged him to go to therapy.

“Mentally and emotionally, having therapy was helpful to making me better. I started to practice, use it and eventually talk about it,” Common says.

Since embarking on his wellness journey, Common has become an advocate for mental health access, specifically in BIPOC communities. Too often, Common says, minority communities are reluctant to seek mental health care. This week, he is bringing that passion to the University of Denver.

Common will join Apryl Alexander, associate professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, at 5:30 p.m. May 12 in a Zoom conversation in conjunction with the school’s signature “Redefining Mental Health” event series.

“He has been a great advocate for mental health access,” Alexander says. “He has talked about mental health access for vulnerable populations like incarcerated populations, and he’s an artist who is also an activist. For us, I think Common is a perfect person to talk about these things. Our conversation is going to center around healing.”

Talking, Common says, will help destigmatize mental health treatment.

“There’s no other way around it besides to talk about it and not be afraid to talk about it,” he explains. “We’ve got to make it natural like going to the doctor. We’ve got to be open enough to express it, because that’s how we get to the healing of it.”

Common hopes people leave the event feeling stronger and empowered; he wants people to know it’s OK to talk about mental health.

Shelly Smith-Acuña, dean of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, says DU has enormous strengths in mental health and wellness. With the Redefining Mental Health initiative, DU hopes to collaborate with and draw on experts in a more comprehensive way.

“This conversation is essential at this moment in time. We are recognizing that all of us have to take responsibility for our own mental health and wellness, as well our community mental health and wellness. I hope everyone really tunes in to this theme, because Common has been talking about this idea of caring for ourselves and our community for a long time,” she says.

To register for “Redefining Mental Health With Common,” click here.