Charlamagne in a white hoodie
The Equity Issue

Unpacking Emotional Baggage With Hall of Fame Radio Host Charlamagne tha God

For this special episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW sits down with Hall of Fame radio show host Charlamagne tha God to talk about anxiety, therapy, and learning how to become mentally strong.

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Meet Charlamagne tha God

Jacket & T-shirt: Nudie Jeans; Jeans: Rag and Bone; Sneakers: Veja; Jon Cortizo and WesFilms

Born Lenard McKelvey, Charlamagne tha God is one of the most influential voices in media. He's the outspoken host of "The Breakfast Club," a radio show that reaches over 4.5 million listeners each week. He also co-hosts a popular podcast, The Brilliant Idiots, where he and Andrew Shulz discuss the biggest issues of the day.

He hosts a TV show, as well, called "Tha God's Honest Truth," which appears on Comedy Central. It's a late-night show that addresses a variety of social issues.

In addition to TV and radio success, Charlamagne is also a New York Times bestselling author. His books include "Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It" and "Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me." He also created an audiobook with James Altucher called "We've Got Answers: Honest Conversations on Race in America." 

Charlamagne rose to fame by interviewing top celebrities and sharing his opinions on a variety of hot topics. In the last few years, he began sharing his personal self-growth journey. He's become a huge advocate for therapy and self-care.

Why I Wanted to Interview Charlamagne

I had known about Charlamagne and "The Breakfast Club" for a long time. "The Breakfast Club" is known as "The World's Most Dangerous Morning Show," and it's the top-rated hip hop and R&B morning show. Guests include the biggest names in the music industry, and his interviews with individuals like Kanye West make huge headlines. 

But Charlamagne doesn't just stick to entertainment. He often talks about social issues and race. And he's interviewed politicians like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

He's also interviewed many mental health professionals over the years on his shows. In fact, he's interviewed several people on "The Breakfast Club" who have also appeared on our podcast, including James Altucher, Nedra Glover Tawwab, and Mike Bayer.

The fact that he's bringing self-help authors and therapists onto his show is exciting. He's reducing the stigma of mental health, and he's showing that everyone can benefit from talking to someone—even successful people like himself.

But I didn’t know much about Charlamagne’s personal life until he was a guest on my friend James Altucher’s podcast. On the show, Charlamagne talked openly about his struggles with anxiety and depression. 

Over the years, I’ve heard him talk about his experiences in therapy. I’ve also heard him encourage others to seek help. 

As a therapist, I see first-hand how therapy helps people grow and heal. But, I also see a lot of people who are afraid to talk to someone

So I really wanted to sit down with Charlamagne and talk about why he’s so passionate about encouraging people to get therapy. 

You think you're going for like one or two things like anxiety and depression, but then you start peeling back all these layers of your life and you start unpacking all of this unhealed trauma that you never even knew you had.

Charlamagne's Mental Health Journey

When Charlamagne was 31, he went to the emergency room with chest pain, thinking he had a physical health problem. The physician told him he was having a panic attack

But Charlamagne didn’t get treatment right away. It took him eight more years to see a therapist. 

To his surprise, therapy was helpful. He says therapy helped him unpack a lot of the things he'd been carrying around with him. He could open up to someone about all the things he'd kept hidden for years and finally begin to heal. 

He mentioned that he went to therapy on "The Breakfast Club." Eventually, he started talking about his weekly therapy sessions that took place every Friday at 3 p.m. Soon, people were telling him that he inspired them to see a therapist too.

He realized that by telling people he was getting treatment, he had become an advocate for mental health. But he also recognized that not everyone has access to therapy. So he started the Mental Wellness Alliance as a way to amplify awareness and increase treatment access for the Black community.

Charlamagne in a black hoodie

Eco-friendly Wardrobe—Sweatsuit: Blacktag Apparel; Sneakers: Veja; Jai Lennard

Standouts From the Episode

  • How Charlamagne discovered he had anxiety
  • How he had not known about his father’s struggles with mental illness (and how he finally found out)
  • What happened when he had thoughts of suicide
  • What made him finally start going to therapy (and who influenced him to do so)
  • The ways in which therapy has been so helpful to him
  • Why he chose to broadcast a live therapy session (and why he now regrets this)
  • The strategies he uses to manage his mental health
  • The alternative treatments he’s open to trying to help him grow emotionally and spiritually
  • Why he started the Mental Wealth Alliance

What Charlamagne Learned About Mental Health

Charlamagne says talking to a therapist normalized what he was going through. He better understood his anxiety, depression, and other struggles when he learned about mental health.

He credits therapy with him helping him heal. And while he thinks everyone could benefit from talking to a therapist, even people who don’t have a mental illness, he knows some people face barriers to getting quality treatment.

He launched The Mental Wealth Alliance to treat, train, and teach. His goal is to provide mental health services for underserved Black communities across the United States. The foundation is increasing funding for Black mental health providers, providing free therapy, and offering resources to eradicate the stigma.

I want to constantly always be evolving and growing. Like I really wanna feel what it is to be a spiritual being, living a human existence. And I don't think that happens if you don't get your mental and emotional and spiritual wellbeing together.

More About the Podcast

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Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.